walking

Vacilando

It started the moment he learned how to walk. Off he went in whatever direction he happened to be pointing, wearing nothing but diapers and a smile, and sometimes not even the diapers. It made no difference where he was going, just so long as he was going somewhere. Had his parents not started keeping him tethered on a modified leash he surely would have wandered away and ended up kidnapped or roadkilled or on the back of milk carton. This wanderlusting continued into childhood and beyond.

When he started school teachers called him energetic or a nomad or threatened to get out the duct tape when patience ran thin. Many made claims of ADHD. The truth was trying to stay seated was totally impossible for him, which made school equally impossible. He just wasn’t cut out for it, because he just couldn’t sit still. He grew tired of being a square peg in a world of round holes. When he turned fifteen he decided he couldn’t take it anymore, and he just started walking toward the south.

When folks saw him walking they had questions. Where was he going? And why? He didn’t know the answers to these questions. He was on a quest, a quest that he didn’t know where or why of. He felt like he would know where he was going when he got there, and as soon as he figured out the where he would know the why. Until then he kept walking.

People started feeding him and bringing him gifts. He garnered a reputation as the walking saint and his reputation preceded his path. He always had a dry place to stay and home cooked food to eat. He walked all the way through Mexico and into Central America.  He crossed the Panama canal and kept going south. He eventually reached the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego, and he looked off the end of South America, over the icy waters stretching to Antarctica. It was breathtaking yes, but even this was not the where he imagined would stop him in his tracks. So he turned around and kept walking, to the North.

Almost two years after leaving he finally returned home, having walked thousands of miles and met thousands of people. He learned to speak Spanish and a bit of Portuguese. He wanted to imagine that when he made it back home it would be a relief, that somehow the urge to walk would disappear and he could finally settle into a normal life. He wanted home to be the where he was looking for, but actually returning home made him feel more lost than ever. So he kept going.

Through Oregon and Washington, into British Columbia. He couldn’t stop, not until he got to the place he couldn’t picture but would know nonetheless. Someday he would make it to wherever he was going, and then it would all make sense. He would finally understand why he had walked so far and never been able to stop.

Until then, the walking saint kept walking.


 Vacilando – Spanish (verb) – Traveling when the experience itself is more important than the destination.


Number 2 of the Lost in Translation series

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Walking Meditation

Doobie read somewhere about these crazy monks in ancient China, or was it Japan, that used to walk for miles and miles everyday as a practice in meditation and to better appreciate the moment.  For them the act of walking was like a form of prayer, a beautiful, holy and one hundred percent human act. Doobie really thinks they were onto something.

For Doobie, walking helps him think and concentrate on the issues at hand, and forget the issues that are out of hand, but no matter what it helps him get grounded. It’s the rhythm of the footsteps, the frequency of the gait and the coordination of the arm swings, everything about it helps reconnect him. Sometimes Doobie needs to walk for miles before he starts to feel normal again, ten thousand two hundred and seven steps to be exact (and still counting) in a sort of suspended Zen-like stupor, all brought about by a joint of the One Hit Wonder to the head.

He can’t even remember the start of the walk, although he knows it had to have started somewhere, most likely at his house. All of a sudden Doobie found himself enclosed in a soundproof glass museum case, and the whole world seemed so far away. It was right there in front of him but was still about a million miles away. He knew he had to just start walking with blinders on and without a thought about where he might be going. Just walk and walk, trying not to look too lost or too stoned, and hopefully nobody would try to talk to him. But Doobie doesn’t remember any part of the walk except for the ten thousand two hundred and twenty-six steps, and it’s three hours later and he’s on the other side of town.

He decides he must have been following the train tracks because he’s walking along them now, or hopping from tie to tie, counting each footfall. Ten two twenty-nine, ten two thirty. He wonders how long he’s been following the tracks. It’s like he lost consciousness for the past three hours, like he’s been sleepwalking and woke up all the way across town. It was just three hours ago and suddenly it’s now.

But now is as good a place to be in as any.

Ten thousand two hundred and forty.

Ten thousand two hundred and forty-one.

Monks walking in line (by Wagner T. Cassimiro “Aranha”)


Daily Prompt: Time After Time

Walking

Does anyone ever stop to think about walking? The people who don’t know how to walk need to think about it. Toddlers, people in rehabilitation, the physically challenged, these are the people that need to think about walking, really concentrate on putting the necessary physical motions into the proper sequence. Once a person learns how to walk do they ever really concentrate on walking again, or pause to consider the significance of the act? People who can’t use their legs need wheelchairs and electric carts. Provided they can use their hands, they wriggle around on the ground like seals, without their legs reduced to a posture that is arguably less than human. Standing erect and walking are huge parts of the human experience, and bipedal locomotion itself is a defining feature of our species.

Walking is a given for most people, and perhaps even an annoyance for some. Some would rather wait half an hour for front row parking than park immediately and walk five minutes. Some insist on driving to the end of their driveways to get the mail. Some speak of walking any distance greater than half a mile with the same genuine disinterest they reserve for such demeaning physical labor as ditch digging or cleaning toilets.

Not everybody has such a negative opinion of walking. I personally know hundreds of people who exalt in the act of walking or some other form of bipedal locomotion. I, for one, enjoy walking and running and other such physical acts, but I never truly appreciated their significance until recently. It’s cruel, I think, that the significance of anything so important, so integral to being a human being, should stay so unconsidered that it can’t truly be appreciated until it is gone. I will never make that mistake again.

my office

I haven’t been able to walk since October 7.

Read more about my accident HERE