I love to walk. Quickened blood bathes my brain, carrying fresh oxygen to fuel my imagination. The unexpected sights and encounters of a walk can’t be planned; wooded path or city block, something will be revealed.
Walking is a primary component of my life. I have three dogs that clamor for their exercise. I also work a mile from the commuter train, and I walk that route ten times a week. There is joy to walking. It’s so simple, yet no two steps are identical, even when you walk the same route for weeks, months, years. Every walk is an encounter with the edge of the unknown, a direct entry into the future.
I have a pair of Docs, with Air Soles. I got them my Junior year of college (1998). My Docs have carried me across the beautiful bridges in Brugge, over the haunted, brick-laid walkways of Mary Washington College, and through the busy streets of the living, beating heart of Austin. I didn’t wear those Docs in Australia, Boston, the wilds of Maine, or Hawaii, yet in spirit, somewhere in my metaphysical reality, they were there. The Docs are the archetype, the Platonic ideal. All of my shoes are participants in the ideal of the Docs, carrying me forward. They were with me as a young girl in Budapest, tasting and breathing my ancestry. They were with me the night I went to the Blue Ridge mountains to see the meteor shower. They were with me in Kauai, a place that resonates with the depth-less soul of life. In some future, I may walk in Italy or wander Kyoto. The ideal of the Docs will be there, too, always with me as I walk.
Walks transport not just the body, but also transcend time. I do not walk in some singular “now.” Every walk reminds me of some other walk, the same way strangers in an airport look familiar. I’ve been in LAX, DFW, O’Hare, and so many more I can’t remember, and in each of them I see the shades of former co-workers, friends a decade lost, the dead. The experience of strolling an airport concourse alternates between exhilaration and terror. There is a chance, however small, that you will see someone you know – unexpectedly, and possibly from beyond the veil. Airports are a concentrated nexus of paths, a place where all of us are take flight from walking, and “unstick” from that which literally grounds us in our humanity.
Even my daily walk from train station to office reminds me of other places. The columns on the Event Center evoke my brief time as a Physics grad student at Old Dominion University. The bridge crossing the Colorado reminds me of a river in Bangor, Maine and a larger bridge near Dahlgren, Virginia. The building I work in, from a distance, reminds me of another building on a hill, another job. There is an arrangement of trees that reminds me of Paris; the wrong type of tree, of course, but just as all my shoes participate in the Docs ideal, these trees participate in an overreaching, spiritual tree form. They are as unique as our stories and our souls, but vibrate with a shared harmony. Everything is perfect when it is itself, except possibly people. Our will and our greed and our envy make us less perfect, but we have the gift of walking. We can calm our acquisitive monkey-brains and get perspective when we walk. Walking reminds us we are a part of something vast and incalculable. When we walk we can simply be, simply breathe, simply move: ourselves, perfected.