Archive for September, 2008

Walking My Head Off

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

“If you travel far enough, one day you will recognize yourself coming down the road to meet yourself. And you will say YES.”
– Marion Woodman.

I am stalking the perimeters of Fort Langley. Walking, walking, walking my head off. I wonder if this is a Buddhist expression. I wonder some days if it will work. Walking more, walking longer. It is my cold bath, my push ups, my Grouse Grind (some days my Grouch Grind). And it is my prayer.

Julia Cameron preaches the morning pages. Three pages of stream of consciousness writing, first thing in the morning before anything. It blows off steam, skims the cream, primes the pump, unearths the dirt so that you can get to the good stuff. I do both. These are my cornerstones: writing my heart out, walking my head off. I do not walk to solve my problems although my problems solve because I walk. I walk to loosen the tight round and round of the thoughts that choke me, and feel them spool out behind me as I go. Sometimes I take one idea with me, and carry it in my pocket. It looks different somehow, after being taken out for air.

“Make more progress on tempering your obsessive side…see what you can do to convert it from a part-time liability into a full-time asset.”
– Advice from Some Smart Ass.

I am restless again. The geese are leaving. I stand at the door when they call and watch them go. But the further I walk the bigger this little town feels. I feel a space opening up inside of me. Nothing new in this observation, just the world. It is the art of paying attention.

Just inside the cemetery gate off Glover Road, there are five old cedars that form a semi-circle. Have you ever stood in the middle and looked up? It is Fort Langley’s Cathedral Grove. In the summer Hayden and I used to lay down right there and follow with our eyes the grand steep of the trunks skyward. Now with the ground wet he knows to stand still with his arms at his sides. I hoist him up and he lays back flat in my arms, and we have our moment. A child will see what we show them.

I walk across the Jacob Haldi Bridge and ignore the Bedford Bedlam. The construction is quite distracting until you enter the trees. All week The Army has been stationed in the campground. As I walk the trail alongside their campsite, I see jeeps and tarps and pup tents. All the soldiers are in full camouflage gear. Sitting on camp stools, stoking fires, chopping wood, the military tableau seems so removed from the Fall day. Golden poplar leaves spiral slowly to the ground. No one looks up. No one turns their head. They are all wearing those mirror shades. “I can see you but you can’t see me.” Whatever happened to, “Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes?”

I walk on.

People ask me if I’m afraid of bears on the trail. I would be afraid, but what’s a walker to do? But I have a plan. I carry dog treats and a big carrot, enough so that I could get far enough away before it came time for the entrĂ©e. Only a snake today, about two feet long. Lengthwise yellow stripes, red dots beside. And it wouldn’t even move, I had to walk around it.

Back over the bridge, I meet Michelle on her break, sitting in a flower bed eating from her lunch bag. She is every time, all the time, happy and excited to see me. I take that very personally and love that quality about her. I ask if I can see the tattoo peeking out the back of her shirt. “The Gentile Soul”…below it the image of a large bumble bee carrying an old-fashioned key, and then underneath…”Inherits the Earth.”

The Gentile Soul Inherits the Earth. The…GENTILE…Soul…Inherits…the… Earth?

“Michelle? Is this a spelling mistake?”
“Uh, yes.”
“OH…MY…GOD. Is this new? When did you have it done?”
“July 4th.”
“I would have killed him!”
“He’s already dead.”

We talk. We laugh. I think of this young woman wearing her special, significant to her, complete with spelling mistake tattoo with such aplomb, and I salute her as I’m leaving, “Michelle, you’re beautiful!”

I walk on.

The goats of Wright Street remain faithful. I call out a hello and the whole trip of goats gallop to the fence, their neck bling ringing. I have nothing to offer, having eaten the carrot and given Rosemary the dog treats on the way. There is one rust coloured mama that stays longer than the rest, sharing particularly intense eye contact with me, and I wonder again about reincarnation.

I walk on.

“In order to achieve escape velocity we must learn to keep our own counsel, to move silently among doubters, to voice our plans only among our allies, and to name our allies accurately.” – Julia Cameron.

When I was a kid I tied things to my arms. Cardboard, sticks and cloths, whatever I could find (I was not particularly adept with my hands), but I had hope. I jumped and jumped and jumped off the front porch, landing in the grass, tumbling and rolling. Then again. Leaping, flapping, dreaming, there was no telling when, and no belief in never, that one of those times I would fly.

In Annie Dillard’s memoir, “An American Childhood,” I read with amazement and delight her description of propelling herself down the street, her arms windmilling, faster and faster, taking the corners, intent on a certain route, convinced, determined, and readying herself for take-off. She caught the eye of a woman walking towards her and saw the look of surprise and then recognition that crossed her face. And Annie was picking up speed then, but appreciated as she flashed by, the knowing look that passed between them. That woman knew she was getting ready to fly!

“Escape velocity requires the sword of steely intention and the shield of self-determination.” – Julia Cameron.

I have a feeling. I have a feeling. I have a feeling and I am going to walk it into fruition. When I was a teenager I’d start to shiver and shake. I called it “nervous fits of anticipation.” I’d pace. I’d go to the window over and over again. The phone would ring. The letter arrive. Someone or some thing surprised. Nervous fits of anticipation. Now I know to get my coat and walk through the door. Go down the road to meet me.

I walk on.

Good Life