I like to walk. I like that I can do it at any time, anywhere. I like that I am able to walk off issues, steam, problems, anger, hurt, heartbreak. I like that moving my body means moving my feelings. I am grateful for something proactive to do with myself. And because I am me, I have a lot to walk over, with and because of...
It has been beastly hot in Ojai so walking has been hard. If it is cool enough, then it is too early or too late. I am not a fan of tempting fate at becoming mountain lion bait. Or coyote food. So I have been staying inside where it is cool. But last night I needed a walk. I needed to do whatever chemical thing happens to my brain when my feet move, plodding forward. There is definitely a connection between how I feel and how much I move my body. The less I move, the worse I feel, the more I move, the easier it is for me to live within myself.
So I gathered the dogs and the daughter and off we went to the coast. It was lovely but warmer than I anticipated. The dogs and daughter did their thing. The dogs consumed with chasing the imaginary birds one dog insists are there even if none of the rest of us can see them, the other dog just following along, happy to be a supportive sidekick. The daughter engaging with the dogs, running, jumping, chasing, blonde hair flowing in the breeze. The setting sun before us causing the light to feel surreal. The kid and canines jumping in the surf, launching in the air for sticks, leashes and freedom.
I walked behind. Lagging. Popping the tiny air bladders on washed up kelp. Satisfied with the pop from the crushing of their integrity. I felt the air on my sunburned face and felt grateful for a little moisture. I walked on the ocean, I meandered the shore. I found myself there again as usual.
And I walked off an old me and I found a new one. I am pretty sure that is what happens to me with every walk. I walk off who and how I am, for a new version of myself. A new vision of myself, you, life...I am changed by the effort walking requires.
The setting sun warming my spirits, casting a glow over the disconnected feelings I brought with me. My feelings of loss and struggle. The pull of a sun not yet set, holding me captive to watch it recede the day. Allowing myself to be bathe in the distant light that oranged up the sky and sand, creating a molten metal of each tidal surge. I used to say that I hated the color yellow, but at the ocean’s edge, there is really no color I could despise. I am open to them all there. Color, life in relief, in technicolor. I love them all. Unlike my closet where only earth tones abide. And maybe that is why, the colors belong to surf and sky, not on me. How arrogant it would feel to don them as my own. Harnessing the hues onto my simple life. Feels wrong, disturbs my senses.
So I walked on the ocean, courted the shore. I revealed my own stuckness. My inability to move on in any real direction. Feeling stymied at my own vain attempts to move love forward, clearing a space for someone new. A new anything wanted more than I might care to admit. Each step taken, moving me onward as evidence of an ability that I feel lacking. Can I move on? Will I? When? How? Sometimes, actually almost all the time, I feel I shall walk the rest of my days in love’s cold shadow, immune to the colors of warmth and light.
I walked out my complicatedness. I wish I could have left it at the ocean’s edge and drowned it with the coming tide. But I couldn’t separate it from myself. The complications of my soul too intwined. So I did the only thing I know to do, I walked the complications of my mind, and with each solid step, I allowed them their space within my skin and mind. But I also shed them onto every grain of sand and sky. I gave them up, to the degree they might would leave. I moved and so moved them too.
I have walked with grief a lot. I always think I am done, but living requires we grieve to live. The pain of life, necessary to see all the joy. I don’t mind the complicated walks with myself...they are really the only ones I ever have. Those walks that are lighter and airier much more seldom and far less deep. I walk with the lightness too, but it is always the heavy mantle of my feelings that gets me moving, pushing me along with myself as I change with each footfall.
As I turned to begin my homeward trek, the light cast my body into long shadows, stretching me out, thinning me tall. I felt the sun’s warmth at my back, illuminating me from within. I did not feel immediately better and was not completely able to shake the feelings of irritation and grief. They lingered despite all my walking. But somehow they got smaller and took up less space in my heart and mind. They became tinier, more able to sit inside me without taking over.
I returned from my journey inside and came back to the present moment where my child and her pets bounded in the sea with all the vigor of youth. I watched because it was all I could do, their dance not mine, me only an observer. And I didn’t wish it to be otherwise, me ok with my place and station in life. Not exactly old, but not exactly youthful either. And I stood for a moment in that space between my youth and my old age, and I waited. I heard the call from both camps, the one I have already left and the one calling me forward. And I gave them both the middle finger...neither owns me. Neither claims me. I was after all standing on the beach at sunset, where no one can claim you because it is there where we all claim ourselves. And if you can’t do that there, walking on the beach with yourself, your life is really not yours.
So I walked myself home into my own chest and head. I saw the mentality of denial lift and float away with the sunset kissed clouds. I walked into me, sandy footsteps putting me back upon my own journey towards myself. Always showing me where my desire to trudge another path, gets me off course and sets me up for dismay. Walking myself home, back into my own flesh, one step after another until the only place I can ever really go is home to my body, my reluctant host.