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I've been doing a lot of wandering lately; waking up soon after the sun rises, going to Zoom shul and reciting kaddish for my beautiful mom, Irma G, and then setting out for walk #1 of the day. Before the day is finished I will try to get in walks #2 and #3 and maybe even #4.
Sometimes I fortunate to walk with friends but most of the time I walk alone.
One of my clearest memories of mom was on a visit to my parent's home on Cape Cod.
I recall standing at the end of the road, the stones crunching under my feet, and seeing my mother come around the bend. Irma G was energetic, and I can see her walking briskly, swinging her arms back and forth with purpose as she strode toward me. Her gait and the swing of her arms was pure Irma as she moved with determination and drive. Before walk-men or earbuds, her steps had pizzazz as though she walked to big-band music which playing in her mind.
Mom continued to walk until about five months before she died, using her walker around the parking lot at The Falls or around the walking path at Orchard Cove. During one shared walk during her 96th year, she shared with me how much she loved to count to herself as she walked and create her own walking rhythms. "And a one, and a two and three and a four" she would repeat to herself with an accompanying snap-snap of her fingers. Mom was never very interested in walking with others; it wasn't the socializing that she was looking for. She enjoyed her own company and created challenges for herself to keep herself interested as she dance-walked around neighborhoods. Traffic never bothered her; she was never anxious about anything when she walked. Although her speed declined as she aged, her determination and love of movement never waned.
We inherit lots of things from our parents both genetically and through what we observe over the years. The way we make our beds, clean our kitchens, play instruments, solve crossword puzzles, how we laugh and what we laugh at can probably be traced back to our childhoods and our parents. Walking was a gift that mom gifted me as over the years I observed each bounce in her step, each snap of her fingers.
Now, a little about the walk itself. Walking is poetry.
Can't sit for a moment longer
My feet are itching to move
My head is eager to breathe fresh air
Get out and meet the world
Put on sneakers or sandals
Open the door and step outside
Take that first gulp of the air
Fills your lungs with freshness
Cold and crisp or
Warm and humid
The air breathes
Feel the breeze urge you onward
Before others join the parade of walkers and joggers
Hear the song birds call to one another from tree to tree
See the squirrels scurry across the street
Always looking for their next acorn
Chipmunks lifting their tiny striped heads as they watch you pass by
Crows sit on telephone wires and watch you from above
Wondering why people walk when they could fly
The day is done and the parade of walkers turns to those who stroll
Leisurely walks by a lake or down a silent street
You are caressed by the wind, kissed by air currents
Sometimes your mind races and sometimes your mind rests
You plan, you scheme, you reflect, you listen
Systems interact and dance as you continue
Step by step, snapping your fingers as you hear the music around you
Rhythms are different in the morning and the evening
Can you feel it?
Go left or go right
It doesn't really matter
Going nowhere in particular is just fine
Feel your feet pound the ground
Not too fast and not too slow
Achieve your cadence, your tempo, your pulse
Your mind and your feet are connected
Between them run streams of energy, up and down and back again
Look up and you'll see the sky
The clouds or the sun race by
Look down and you will find miracles in each concrete sidewalk square
Spider-like plants growing between the cracks, ants racing to work
Faded petals, leaf skeletons, worn pebbles and yesterday's gum wrappers
Look ahead and and you'll see where you are heading
A horizon, a hill to climb
Your next challenge
Never concentrate on what is behind you
Always look forward, stride ahead
Going nowhere but moving ahead nevertheless.
Photo taken in May, 2019 by the Charles River
Listen : I Get the Urge For Going Lyrics by Joni Mitchell, sung by Tom Rush