sitting at home lends itself to introspection. however, this is something I have an abundance of. and when I wake up especially sad, I work myself deeper and deeper into it just by sitting still.
so lately, I’ll just up and decide to take a walk.
get out of my house. get out of my bed. get out of my head.
sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. but it’s never worse than doing nothing.
so today I hop in the car again and drive to the river, a place I’ve always been drawn to when my heart is hurting or frenzied. summer or winter, spring or fall, the river is… well, the river. it has a special magic to it. and so does the forest, the ivy and the trees and the woody vines. and hopefully sunshine, if I’m lucky.
it’s especially cold today. my toes are numb in my boots, hands huddled in down jacket pockets. but the more I move, the more I warm up. the river rushes by as always, blue, constant, unmovable, dynamic, beautiful. I push my headphones in, turning the shuffle on random.
music. gosh, am I thankful for music. when I listen, to almost anything, it feels like it takes over for me, for my brain, my body. it becomes my heart, the thing pumping blood and keeping me alive, and I don’t have to think so hard about existing. I can lose myself in it, or let it feel for me, breathe for me.
and it keeps my feet moving. the more I walk, the less numb I am, in all ways. I wish I could just walk forever. I need this constant, purposeless motion, movement for the sake of movement. I’ve wanted to achieve this through climbing, pulling off lap after lap… but you can only live on an autobelay for so long before your will to keep going just gives up and quits, along with your skin and your wild heartbeat and your limbs. there’s a limit, which frustrates me. I wish my body was stronger. I wish there could be this endless wall, easy and fluid, where I could just climb and climb forever. become movement. feel like I’m doing something other than walking in circles, or just wandering wherever I feel like it before turning around whenever I get tired.
but still… walking is good. running would be better, but my lungs hate me too much for that (thanks a lot, asthma. jeez.). but there is something about walking, about my legs propelling me through the world without much thought. there’s a rhythm to it, a mindlessness, but because I’m actually going somewhere, it doesn’t feel utterly pointless. and it’s physical. it forces me to look outside myself, and not drown in all the things going on inside, all the things I can’t fix, all the things I can’t control, all the worries I have about what I did and didn’t do or what will or won’t happen.
I suck at waiting. especially when I don’t know exactly what I’m waiting for. I just know that I hope something is coming, anything other than silence, and I can’t help but wait for it. but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to do something. my brain and heart tell me I have to, this is too important not to, but there’s nothing more for me to do. and so I walk.
and today, it gets better. the air is freezing, but the sun lights up the path in golden, shining through ivy leaves. I begin to notice things about the world. things other than me and what’s inside. patchy snow on dirt and brush. slivers of ice in a puddle. vines as thick as my bicep twisting, hanging in a mass beside a tree. I remember climbing those vines. I remember sitting in hammocks and throwing gummies at friends. I remember playing the push game on a rock in the river, always losing but never minding. I remember polar plunging in February with a bunch of friends as crazy as I was. I felt so alive, pumped full of fizzy joy, electric. I miss being crazy. I miss feeling like I am home.
rocks and whushing water. dogs excited to see me. a thick pipe across a dry creek – I balance across. wooden bridges. paths branching off paths. crunch of gravel. quiet steps on dirt. smooth grey bark with white splotches – birch? ivy. lots and lots of it. a hollowed stump. a whole haven that exists with or without me. alone or with others. I snag a knitted hat with two braided tassels hanging from a tree peg. it was there yesterday too, so I don’t feel bad about taking it. I pick off the crunchy leaves… it’s warm and soft. my heart feels quieter. I take out the earphones, pray as I walk. like I’m talking to a friend, someone who cares about me. who understands me. I feel a closeness I haven’t felt in a while. I feel like I can trust Him, no matter what happens. He knows what my heart wants, and can do everything I hope and more, if that’s best. and He’s faithful. all the time. that’s all that matters.
I think about hope. about what I could compare it to. maybe it’s a sword, because it is so double-edged. sharp. maybe it is sunshine, or the comforting warmth that comes when I cup my hands around a mug of tea. something vital and beautiful and powerful. or maybe it is the cold that comes with a winter day, something you can’t avoid or let go of even as it hurts to hold on to. maybe it is both, the warm cup of tea and the cold gray day. maybe it’s a burr in the woods… you don’t notice you’ve picked it up, until it’s there sticking to your clothes. you can’t seem to get rid of it, but its sharp prick on your skin reminds you of who you are and who you love. maybe hope is the smile of the person dearest to you. maybe it is memory. maybe it is dreams. maybe it’s your breath or my heartbeat.
I think it’s all of these things.
I think everything is more complicated than we think. and more simple.
I think that love makes all of these things worth it. even the things that feel impossible.
I think a lot of things.
but thinking them here, breathing fresh, cold air, as my feet move me through the forest and as music pumps blood through my body for me, is much better than doing it almost anywhere else.