After my early morning experience with the nature of Love, or Love in nature, I’ve started taking morning walks, trading in one form of meditation for another. I no longer wake up and write. Instead, I lace up my shoes, pour a cup of coffee and head out the door.
The purpose of the walk is twofold.
I go to find solitude and to go slowly.
Going slow may not seem like much of a purpose; in fact, to most of fitness-conscious Southern California, it sounds like the anti-purpose of walking. But I’ve come to see that I go fast enough already, all day long. Going slow is an anathema to me, which is all the more reason to learn how to do it. It’s not easy. In fact, that’s why I bring the coffee: to remind me to sip and savor my surroundings, to literally stop and smell my neighbor’s roses.
But what I thought would be the hardest part, going slow, is not as hard as the harder part: finding solitude.
Somehow, an old friend, let’s call her Patty, has found out I’m walking and has decided to join me on these early morning strolls.
Actually I wouldn’t call her a friend. She’s more like a nemesis. Though I try to evade her, by the time I get a few houses away, there she is, keeping step with me, ready to chatter away about her plans for the day and gossip, filling my head with negative energy. I’ve tried sending her away, saying politely, but firmly that this is my time, for peace and quiet, to not think about all the things she’s obsessing over, but she’s very persistent. If I really press her, she might fall silent, or walk on the other side of the street for a while. But she’s usually back, the very next day, ready to keep me company again. Apparently, she thinks I would get lost without her.
Now if you’re wondering why I don’t just get rid of her, the fact of the matter is that I can’t.
Patty is me.
Patty is my conscious self, my ego, my mind,. And no matter how hard I try to leave her at home, she always tags along.
She is just full of ideas.
She tries to get me to multi-task: “If you’re walking, you might as well walk faster and get your exercise in.”
She tries to get me to plan: “If you get home by 6:30, that will give you 15 minutes to write and then 10 minutes to make lunches and then 5 minutes to …”
She tries to get me to worry: “Keara has a Spanish test today and a math test too. Did she study hard enough? Did the Lad finish his math homework? Will Molly ever grow?”
Patty tries to get me to stick with her, but the whole point of the walk is to find some measure of stillness, away from my busy mind. The point of the walk is to discover the truth of what I know, apart from words and plans and the power they hold.
I want to be clear about something. Patty is not a bad person. I need Patty. She keeps me on track during my day, directs me about my tasks and makes sure that my family and work life run smoothly. Sometimes, Patty can be quiet. Sometimes, she sleeps; sometimes, she’s distracted, and on occasion, she is actually satisfied with what we’ve accomplished during our day.
It’s been several weeks now and I’ve realized that Patty is coming on these walks with me whether I like it or not. It was a naïve fantasy that she would remain home in bed while I was up and about in the world. So I’ve learned these walks are really about teaching Patty to be silent, to remember she isn’t the only one in this relationship. And so far, I think it’s been good for us – me, myself and I.