Weekend Walks

I’ve written a few blog posts during quarantine cataloging the weekend walks (and their corresponding pictures) I’ve taken these past 7 months or so. This time around I took a very leisurely stroll in the rain on Saturday and then I did a combo walk/run on Sunday when the weather was better.

I’ve broken up the pictures into two galleries but I find them hopeful. The recurring theme is that you can find some real beauty when you slow down a bit. [I know this isn’t earth-shattering]


Being Seen

I’m a very difficult person to live with. I can be sullen and withdrawn and maudlin and, even when I’m doing the dishes or cooking dinner and you try to talk to me, I can be miles away – years away – thinking about an ancient conversation I wish had gone differently or idealizing a future that requires zero effort for me to fix.

In short (too late) I’m a magical thinker who tends to give too much credence to my imagination and my feelings. I’m often not rational preferring to listen to my gut and to navigate the invisible reverberations of the emotions of those around me instead of saying what I need or want. I’m terrible at naming what I feel so often times I don’t even try. It’s almost always too acute or too specific and I can’t quite get a grasp of how to explain it.

Imagine the iridescence of some exotic butterfly and trying in vain to describe the brilliance of the shifting, shimmering colors as its wings catch the sunlight. Or the simultaneous strength of wings that can carry it thousands of miles but would rend like paper if you barely touched it. This is my experience of my inner self and I’m always afraid to show it to people – to tell my truth – because I perceive others as being either far less esoteric and complex or maybe they have an ability to just say “pretty butterfly” while I have to blurt out a paragraph of text as seen above.

All of which is merely a prologue for some very unhealthy behavior I’ve displayed this week. As usual I’ve taken my inner anger about my birthday – a nagging sense that no one really appreciates me for the unique person I am even while I push them all away or hide all the crazy/messy facets of myself from view – and I made rash choices. I deleted some social media while vomiting up all my insecurities and pain on another.

I didn’t fight fair. I don’t fight fair. I hurt people before I’ll let them hurt me. I deny my own feelings of longing for someone to see the authentic, original, total me by “reasoning” that if they wanted to know they’d just dig a little deeper. Just try a little harder. Just do a little bit more.

But, again, that’s not fair. I know it’s me that has to change. I know that I’m the one with work to do. I have to receive the love they could offer me more than I’m afraid of them rejecting the “me” I almost never show. I want so badly to be that vulnerable but beautiful butterfly but I’m so comfortable here in my cocoon that I don’t know what to do.

I took a long walk this afternoon. I’ve always loved feeling tired after exercise or standing in the rain or bracing against the cold. Something about feeling the physical fragility of life seems to connect me more with that interior experience that I mostly keep hidden. It helps me synthesize all my thoughts so that I can finally say what’s on my mind or show what I’ve been working on. It helps me lower my guard and realize that we’re all basically the same and that I shouldn’t fear showing myself anymore than I should fear that tired ache of exercise. I can understand the emotional ache of wanting and wishing and hoping and so I should just acknowledge those feelings too.

I feel everything so acutely. The rage at the handling of COVID-19. The anxiety about voting rights. The stress of working from home, learning remotely, and the isolation from family and friends. There are days when I feel like an exposed nerve and the only way I know how to show my family that I love them is to make dinner and clean the kitchen and try to just be as unobtrusive as I can be. I think that shrinking myself to a tiny, quiet point will mean the pain can’t get to me but my brain finds way to route around my body if given half a chance.

I don’t know what the point of writing all of this down is but I do know that I acted out the other night and it makes me feel ashamed. I also know that lots of folks reached out – privately and publicly – to check on me. I’m thankful for your messages. I’m not okay. The weight of this year is crushing and I’m running out of ways to displace that burden. Maybe I ought to just spend all day walking – taking all my meetings by phone so my body can help my soul deal with everything. Maybe I just need a good cry or yell at the universe to let all of those feelings loose.

I just know that I’ve been bottled up and that most times I try to explain what’s wrong I get angry at myself before I finish the first sentence because it isn’t coming out the right way. I spend so much time gaslighting myself that things are fine that when I finally start to snap out of it I’m mad twice – once for suppressing myself and a second time for not changing things immediately.

I’m just the slightest bit hopeful that maybe some of my less-rash decisions will make a little bit of difference. I’m not holding my breath but I’m trying to be honest. Maybe I should have more meltdowns? I honestly can’t tell anymore. I just know that I’m having a hard time and I’m trying to explain how I feel so *I* understand it.

Thanks for listening.

Poetry corner

Related to some thoughts I’ve been having – both recently and as part of a longer exploration for a book I’m half heartedly and haphazardly writing – a poem fragment sprang into my brain yesterday.

Here’s what it became after some refinement last night:


Late Summer Sunday stroll amidst cicada song
I’m struck
Maybe these are sirens
That I’ve misheard as wilderness wallpaper
And I wonder
How many other opportunities to be open
To listen
To hear
That what I always thought harmony and melody
Might represent solemnity, sorrow, or strife
And now as I round the corner home
I consider
It may not be just the cicadas I’ve misunderstood
But also my friends, neighbors, and lover too
So I stand in the shimmering street
Sinking into that silent thought
And the daylight drones on

Shoutout to Jason Dominy whose poetry posting on Facebook & Instagram made me consider taking a little wisp of inspiration and running with it.

Thanks, man. I’m hoping this small effort will let me re-focus on a larger work that’s been dormant for a bit longer than I’d like.

Stay well, everybody, and keep looking for the meaning amidst all the meandering.

Weekend Walking

My most recent blog post was about a new routine – at the time – of taking a walk on Sunday afternoons to find some time & space for myself, to listen to an audiobook, podcast, or meditation, and to take some pictures of the natural world.

For pretty much the majority of the Summer I’ve kept the same schedule. This weekend I actually took two walks – both about 5 miles – to soak up the sun and enjoy the waning August heat & humidity (it was in the 70’s yesterday!).

So I’ve got a few pictures to share of these walks which are mostly of lantana bushes and the various butterflies found on them. I’m always astounded when I’m on these walks how close the animals & insects will let you get if you just act naturally.

I’ll also share a brief anecdote about a tiny, suburban cemetery tucked in to a subdivision that is on one of my various routes. It’s not big – maybe 50 graves – but it has two unassuming entrances: one in a cul-de-sac and the other neatly tucked at a steep angle underneath some shady trees.

Yesterday I caught two elderly male companions sharing a granite bench that serves as the headstone for two members of the same family. Both gentleman had their heads bowed and their hands clasped between their knees as if in prayer. I’m not a religious person myself but there’s something sacred and reverent about being in nature and catching a glimpse of human vulnerability. I tipped my baseball cap to them both as I strode around the street hoping my brief acknowledgement didn’t interrupt their visit.

Here are the promised pictures, little fragments of views I got along my path. On their own they’re just metadata to be cataloged by my smartphone and the cloud service storing them but here they’re the story of my journey.

I really treasure my walks. I don’t do them with any intention to go a particular speed or take a specific path or capture a particular picture. I walk to be on a walk and enjoy the feeling of the air and the sun and my own body taking me somewhere.

In a time of quarantine and political uncertainty and virtual schooling stress it’s good to know that escape is right outside my front door.

A Sunday Walk

In times when my mind is weak I’ll do something physical in an attempt to reboot the connection between my mental processes – thoughts & emotions – and my body.

Today I took a 2 hour walk in the afternoon sunshine to feel the light and the shade. To make sense of the turmoil I felt inside and process the discord of the world and try to make it all rhyme somehow.

I successfully finished one book, Cracker Queen: A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life, and started another, The Art of Happiness in a Troubled World. I also joined a 20-minute guided meditation in between. It was good to feel my body and my breath as I walked. To be connected to myself, and nature, and still someplace else in the reading.

The walk was a contradiction. I contain multitudes.

I also took some pictures. They’re a record of the things that caught my eye, that sparked joy, and that made me stop my momentum for a moment and pause to reflect.

I know we’re all dealing with our own individual stew of personal, professional, and political bullshit, but I hope you’ll take some time soon to go for a walk. It will remind you that sun still shines, the breeze still blows, and that you’ve got the energy to tackle whatever happens next. Your family & friends need you. Listen & heed their call.