Thinking on my feet

Almost everyday I take a brisk, modest-sized walk through the hyper-suburban neighborhood, an asphalt idyll of buckled sidewalks, buzzed lawns, old two-story houses, big porches, and the sporadic American flag and Black Lives Matter sign. People walk dogs. New moms push strollers. Birds chirp and squirrels scamper. 

God, is it tedious. And it’s all in my head. 

The luxuriant boredom I experience on my walks is tenacious and tiresome. My brain won’t shut down, churning as it does with bland thoughts and uprooted memories that flitter like confetti. Everyone says they walk to clear their head. I don’t know what they’re talking about. 

Ah, but there are remedies, I am told. And yet this mind is too distracted by mental detritus to concentrate on the airy, erudite gabbery of a podcast. And the sound of music isn’t powerful enough to muffle the noise echoing in my head. A precious cure eludes the mighty AirPods. 

Extract yourself from the leafy suburbs, I nudge myself. There’s more stimuli in the city — shops, traffic, people, the vast, raucous urban tapestry — or in nature — trees, paths, brooks, snakes, deer poop. Or find a walking pal with whom to chat. 

Yes. Sure. Maybe.

There’s the easily amused and the easily bored. Guess what I am. Sometimes I even glaze over while playing drums to records I love. I’ll zone out, stare at the wall, go through the syncopated motions, finish a tune without quite knowing it. This is rare, but it happens. It’s sort of like sleep walking, with sticks.

I just took a walk and it was fine. I didn’t bore myself silly. Kissed by the breeze, warmed by a soft sun, I actually put my mind to something: this blog. Amid the riot of thought shards, I was able to organize a through line, if only intermittently. The chaos in the cranium still throbbed, but I plucked some ideas from the storm. Nothing major, as you can see, but still.   

It’s like rubbing your head while patting your belly: two disparate tasks at once. Walking and talking is easy. So is wandering and wondering. Muzzling the mind is something else entirely. That’s called meditation, which is not easy. I’ve tried many times. I’m terrible at it. 

My addled brain whirs like a broken fan. On it goes as I walk, each step taking me further into the storm, and that much more away from peace. I welcome the simplest of detours, one where I can quiet the cacophony and harness a madly reeling mind. A cake walk, maybe?

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