Thursday, July 4, 2013

Wednesday Without a Camera

I was SO sad that I forgot my camera on yesterday's walk because it was a fabulous walk. Main Street has become my favourite street. It has tons of character: there are a zillion little clothing boutiques by local designers. The window displays are really smart and there are a lot of restaurants. From one of my favourite stores "8th & Main" at Eighth Avenue all the way to 30th Avenue is just great.

Sign on Main: "More fruits inside."

When I spoke with my friend B. this morning, he asked me, "What do you do while you walk?" Today, I tried to catch myself in thought so that on Thursday I could answer the question. Here is what I learned .... I am addicted to stimulation; meditating to me is equivalent to eating broken glass.

I cannot eat, for example, unless the TV on and broadcasting something really engaging, or I am reading or with someone. And when I eat and read, it is the book that is right before me; the food is off to the side. Eating with a friend is best.

I must not only be stimulated, I must also be active. Reading puts me to sleep; writing is the active form of dealing with text, so I much prefer writing.

And "reflection" is an essential part of critical thinking and writing. As I have told students, as a writer I feel an hour of "reflecting" is essential for every hour at the keyboard. "Reflecting" is the process of reviewing information taken in and to me, it is a critical component of intelligence. That is why, for example, I think I did well at school. There were those kids who liked to answer in class, but I preferred to go home and think about the question and take time to formulate my answers.

Since retiring, therefore, walking has become my "reflection" time. But, just as with eating, I like to do two things at once so my "reflecting" is often interrupted by sensory stimulation. My senses come alive while walking. My skin seduces my soul with the warmth of the sun. I see stunning beauty in the flora and my acute sense of smell leads me like a Beagle.

Birdsong, Quebecois de la rue, music (a flutophone in the park, bagpipes at the beach, notes coming out of windows, buskers), the loud language of babies and toddlers, playground sound—there are so many wonderful sounds of life on the street that go unheard at home.

And sometimes, there are chance meetings that make me feel like times past when you belonged to a friendly community. Walking brings me in much warmer contact with strangers than public transportation and when I bump into friends or drop in at their houses or leave a note, I feel more alive. There are so many reasons to walk other than for good health.

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