Lean Into the Wind
Step-step-step! Walk-walk-walk! Push-push-push!
And then suddenly, somewhere on Danbury Drive, I remembered the pleasure of just walking. I used to just walk all the time: On hot summer streets as a teenager, with no escape from the small-town high school dramas in which I starred, looking for some privacy beyond my bedroom walls. Around my small, green, safe college campus, alone or with a friend, in-between classes or late at night with a clove cigarette. In London, to the outdoor market or in public squares, trying to blend in with the crowds, lonely, and desperate to make a connection. I used to just walk.
Now, I suit up, head out, stare ahead. I try to maximize my effort, combine my exercise and relaxation into one multi-tasking jaunt. I'll stop and smell the roses, but I'd better break a sweat along the way.
But on Thursday, I slowed down and just walked. I felt the wind blowing hard against my front, pushing against me. Instead of trying to power through it, I let it wash over me. When I dropped my own resistance, the wind became just another element in the landscape surrounding me. I turned a corner and the wind was now at my back, pushing me forward ever so slightly. I turned another and it swept over my face, making my ears cold and blowing my hair this way and that. And still, I just walked. I slowed down, uncoiled, and did an extra lap around Quincy and Brattleboro just for the joy of it.
In all life lessons, symbols, and metaphors, the leap from the particular to the universal is inexact. What does it mean if I tell you that on Thursday I learned to lean into the wind? Should I spell it out with musings on "accepting what is" or "going with the flow"? I can link to this useful little post by Seth Godin about solving problems by leaning into them. Or should I leave it up to you to find the meaning in that phrase: lean into the wind?
I walk every day, even if it's just around my house. I should walk more. I want to walk more. It's easy, natural, thoughtless. Walking is a kind of meditation. And yet, some days, it feels so difficult. Sometimes my body is tired, my legs feel out of sync with the rest of me, and every movement forward requires great effort, as if I've never walked before or have been walking for a lifetime without end. Walking feels herky-jerky, cumbersome, laborious. On those days, I just want to sit, exhausted and still, resting all the parts of me. But resting turns into something else, and soon my mind is doing all the walking, frantically rushing from this problem to that worry. It's on those days that I remember to go out and just walk. And on the best days, everything flows.