Recently I’ve noticed that a lot of people on the walking path are talking on the phone as they stroll. And quite a few others have ear buds in place while they listen to who knows what while they cover the terrain.
This multitasking goes contrary to my nature, my philosophy of paying attention to where I am when I am there. Of course, I do occasionally do more than one thing at a time myself, but I really try not to when walking. Most of the time, I don’t even walk with another person so that I can devote my attention to the environment.
So, a phone on the path? Not for me.
It was a funny feeling, cool on my front and warm on my back. I felt sort of like I was floating face down in a cool pool on a bright day. The sun was still fairly low in the sky so it hadn’t warmed up much but directly in the rays, it felt toasty and reassuring. I pondered turning and going the other direction to reverse the temperature variant, but opted against it. It felt good just the way it was.
Today I didn’t walk alone; I walked with anger. Anger doesn’t make a very good companion, keeping me distracted from the views and observations of interesting happenings along my way.
When I heard the voice of a small boy calling, “Hi! Hi! Hi!” while lifting his shirt to show me his belly button, anger tugged my arm to keep me from stopping to say more than “Hi and bye.” Anger didn’t want me to lose the intensity of negative feelings.
And so we walked on, anger and I, all along my usual path. At the bottom of the hill, we passed a cat that looked ominously about to enter the road. I stopped and called to it but it didn’t come. Should I try to intervene or had the cat traveled this path a thousand times? Anger encouraged me to leave it, confident the cat could find its own way.
Anger didn’t dissipate but stuck with me along the entire loop until I crested the hill a second time and gazed again at the spectacular view of the mountains. That’s when I had had enough and I walked on leaving anger there to fend for itself.
I hadn’t wanted to mention it, but the leaves are turning. The old fogey in me is saying, “But the summer has gone so quickly, it can’t be fall already!” Indeed those lazy, hot days have passed hastily and that season is almost gone! In just a few days it will be the equinox again with the hours of day the same as the hours of night…and the world is getting ready. New colors are everywhere, preparing to dazzle us before they fade and leave us with the drab brown of winter.
This winter I am going to go on a search for colors among the shades of neutral. It will be something to look forward to.
But in the meantime, I’m ready for the wild palette of autumn. Let ‘er rip!!
I wasn’t that keen on going out this morning but I decided that it wasn’t that bad and I would have the chance to take a new perspective. It’s raining, slowly, gently and steadily. Perfect for all growing things, except worms.
The sidewalk was strewn with worms escaping the water saturated soil. Most were fully extended hurrying to find a dry spot. But everywhere was wet, wet, wet.
I fought the impulse to scoop them up and bring them home with me to my compost heap. It is a trial effort going on in my garage inside a huge black garbage can. It could use some worms, I think, though it might be too wet there too. Worms are supposed to “process” compost like crazy, given the right conditions.
But I couldn’t bear the thought of them flinching and flailing when I picked them off of the sidewalk, their tiny little brains sensing impending doom. If I had had something to carry them in, I might have done it, this mission of intended mercy.
They will just have to fend for themselves this time…as they always do.
As I passed the backyard of a neighboring house, there were at least ten pigeons fluttering and hovering trying to steal food from a feeder designed for small songbirds. Those big old birds looked oversized and out of place. They must have been humiliated. Where are the ladies with their sacks of cracked corn throwing handouts to the pigeons? I don’t know but these featherbrains need to find a new feed trough.
All along the trail, I saw huge white mushrooms. Where did these come from? They have suddenly appeared in the lawns, under the trees, next to the sidewalks. If they are disturbed, i.e. pulled up, they return in the same spot. When they emerge from the ground, they push the soil up above them leaving a dirt pile. My spouse asked me how mushrooms spread and I’m not sure. By their rhizomes? By spores? It warrants further attention. I thought they only grew in moist, dark places, neither of which describe Boulder. What other surprises do these fungi hold?
I looked up at the Flatirons and the top was hidden. It reflected how I felt, with my head in the clouds, was I looking into a sort of mirror? Obscure and foggy with wisps of haze wafting in the breeze. Yep, exactly how I felt.
Yesterday was WINDY!! when I walked. So today, in typical “lock the barn door after the horse has been stolen” fashion, I bundled up with a sweater and ear muffs (my ears hate the cold). Of course, I didn’t really need either one; the wind was then, now was warm and still. Funny, though, how my recent experiences color my expectations of what will happen next, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, sometimes with little effect.
If I try to pay attention to “now” instead of “then” how do my experiences change?
But does it discount learning if I don’t adapt? Maybe. If I take a reading of the indicators and feel “cold” and “WINDY!!“, then pack the jacket and muffs because I learned what not having them is like. But if I just think what it was like yesterday without paying attention, I’ll likely have to lug them unused.
Today’s walk was peaceful and quiet. I didn’t get out too early but since it is a holiday most people didn’t stir around until later. The cool of the morning coupled with the clear sky made ideal walking conditions.
Since the environment was so peaceful, I tried to turn off some of the “noise” in my head. All that self-talk distracts me from attending to the wide, wide world. But it isn’t easy to make my babble go away. Part of the trick is to recognize that it’s there, then to substitute it with something gentle. It works…sometimes.
I’d rather listen to something else than all that jammering that I create. I know that something better is trying to get in. But I block the way. I’ll keep trying, though. It’s worth it.
Joy. Today as I meandered watching the squirrels dart up and down trees, birds flit on and off the grasses, cats stretch and yawn, I couldn’t help but wonder if what I was seeing was joy. Could what I’ve read in some science documents be true? Do animals act only in response to drives for food, reproduction, or safety? They sure seem to be having a good time. Or do I project?
I’m thinking that drives are too barren for me to embrace totally. Even if I anthropomorphize, isn’t believing in a smidge of joy better than thinking too mechanistically?
I’m not sure what harm it does to believe that animals experience joy. But I do know that they give it.
Another different route today, this time up, up, up the hill and then back down. I went up slowly, taking my time. Looking around, I admired the houses, saw some new construction and landscaping, and then, I stopped in my tracks as something going even slower than myself crossed my path. A snail was moving along the middle of the sidewalk. He was fully extended moving at his own pace. But where was he going? There were tall plants on one side of the walk and grass on the other. What would motivate him to seek a new venue? What signals was he paying attention to? How would he know when he got there?
I stood and watched him move along his slippery train for a while, but he didn’t change directions just continued right down the center of the walkway. Taking advantage of my height, I checked in front and behind to determine if he was in danger of getting stepped on. No immediate danger, so I headed on my way.
His determination and persistence keep coming to mind, though. I hope he found what he was looking for.
Today I took a different path which I would have thought would stimulate all sorts of new observations. And I walked it twice, which doubled my opportunities for seeing something attention grabbing. Psyched for the route, I headed out early, tuned and receptive.
The air was cool but the sun was burning hot. I let my gaze wander over the terrain looking up and looking down. I listened for sounds different and unusual. My nostrils quivered hoping to smell an unfamiliar aroma. My tastebuds were in anticipation mode awaiting the iced coffee at the end of my trek.
I went. I came back.
I have nothing more to report…but I did pay attention.
Today I took a five sensation walk:
smell…the dry grasses of the fields
touch…the cool air of a pocket beside a hill
sound…the thirty squawking pigeonsflying from a rooftop directly towards me
sight…the furry neon yellow caterpillar crossing my path
taste…this one is tricky…I’ll have to think about it…
Sometimes those around us are difficult to understand. Today on my walk, I looked up and saw the moon hanging over the Flatirons. It was wispy and translucent, like the clouds around it. Nothing about it looked solid or enduring, appearing more like a pile of soap bubbles that could easily be dispersed by a puff of wind than like a ball of rocks and dirt.
Surprised to see it there at 8:30 a.m., I thought of how often I admire the moon but rarely know where to expect to find it in the sky. Its movements are foreign to me despite many years observing it. Even from night to morning, it traverses a path that I cannot predict.
Is it a problem of attention? In part. Could I learn the trajectory of the moon throughout the year? Of course, as its path is well know. Why don’t I take the time to then? Ah, therein lies an interesting question that I cannot answer; there are a myriad of reasons. For now, let’s just say that I like surprises.