Loosening the Grip
Sometimes I’m overly aware of my walk - which seems especially odd for someone who tends to be comfortable in his own skin. For reasons unknown, if I’m walking down the street or through the grocery store, I’ll at some point become aware of my step spacing, posture, arm swing, etc, and feel like it’s all wrong.
I never notice such things in the woods, which makes sense. Because I’m not really walking so much as ambling between stopped and 1st gear over uneven terrain, passively studying the flora and fauna and considering photo compositions. I will regularly travel between three and ten miles on a trail, only to realize I’m walking again as I approach the car.
It was different this morning. I’ve had a few very rough Kara days in a row and needed to be in the woods. I’m staying with my mother for several days while she recovers from hip surgery and as such, am not able to travel very far or hike very long for fear of leaving her alone for an extended period.
So I went to the nature park around the corner from her place that I had spent some considerable time in right after Kara’s passing. My goal was to make it to one particular spot where I knew I would have some chance to cry my eyes out in solitude - a place I know well, that I refer to as the “grief bench.”
Unfortunately for me, my body cared not at all that I had plans for when and where I wanted to grieve this morning and began emoting once I was mere steps within the park. So unlike most outings, I popped it into second gear and began moving through the woods with a purpose. I had a place I wanted to reach before I lost it completely or encountered too many other hikers.
It was at that point that I noticed my walk, which made me all the more uncomfortable. Ironically, the solace I typically find in the forest had been stripped away on a few levels and I unraveled. When I finally made it to the grief bench the tears stopped, of course. I sat, wiped my face, and composed myself just as a handful of hikers walked by. I took a few deep breaths and began hiking again, in the way I am accustomed to. It all worked out, and I very much got what I needed that day.
That’s something I should try to remember, though - to keep a loose grip and not white-knuckle the reigns so much. Because I now recognize that attempting to exert control over the uncontrollable, is a surefire way to become aware that I’m walking.