Walking one step at a time

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 9, 2012

One foot in front of the other, that is how I start my morning walk. I am not moving too fast, just one foot in front of the other.

Some days, like this one, self-discipline gets me going more than anything. As I walk, my head is a chattering chorus, thoughts falling over each other vying for attention. There is a running conversation going on that is so disjointed it makes little sense.

“What will I cook for lunch?”

“Today is Tuesday.”

“Yoga was good yesterday.”

“I’m going to have toast with honey when I finish walking.”

And on and on it goes. One sentence tumbles into the next one as I put one foot in front of the other. The steps get faster as my body warms up and settles into a rhythm matching my breathing.

Then after about three rounds walking toward the lake with much busyness in my head, something begins to change. Suddenly I’m listening less to the run-on voice and noticing more the glory of the day around me.

I look up and for the first time see a deep blue sky that is cloud-free with the exception of one tiny wisp of white. The noise in my head gets quieter as I watch the cloud floating along.

Turning back toward the water, I see a flash of red and then blue moving through the trees. A blue bird lands on a limb just above the ground, followed by a red bird that settles itself a few branches above it.

Now I’m watching and listening to the sounds of this day and the head chatter is barely a whisper. In the distance far across the lake, I see a bright yellow piece of heavy equipment moving back and forth. Out on the lake a lone boat floats. Two fishermen, straw hats pulled down to shade their faces from the morning sun, sit motionless as statues. I smile knowing how peaceful it must be to sit and float and fish on a beautiful day like this one.

As I head toward home, I catch a whiff of the sweet scent of jasmine and hear the staccato tapping of a woodpecker in a tree near the water. A breeze stirs the moss hanging from the branches of the oaks and I feel it move over my skin. The earth exhales with me.

I notice the sound of my feet crunching in the soft sand and fall into the cadence of one foot in front of the other. The combination of noticing sounds, smells, all the sensations surrounding me brings a stillness to the voice in my head.

How nice it is to simply be on this morning. And how often I listen to that conversation in my head and miss the glory of the present moment.

As I turn into my driveway heading inside to do all the things waiting for doing, a sense of calm goes with me. Sometimes it takes discipline to move myself, to make the effort necessary to quiet my head talk long enough to hear the deep calming silence.

Oh, I know the chattering chorus is not gone for good and that the running conversation is ready to continue, drawing me into busyness again.

However, for this step, with this breath, in this moment, the voice stills for an instant and I am at peace on this beautiful morning.