23 years ago my father had his first heart attack.
It wasn’t his last but he did recover from this first attack and it woke me up. I realized during that traumatic time that I wasn’t exercising either. I didn’t want to be an overweight and unhealthy victim in my late 40’s or 50’s so I made a commitment to watch what I ate, to learn to relax and to walk at least two or three times a week. Two thousand three hundred and ninety two walks later I know I took a step in the right direction.
I was very athletic as a child- in fact, I won the all around athlete at summer camp at age twelve. But like many people I grew lazy once our daughter’s were born, Being the 1980’s this predates much of the focus on health, wellness and nutrition that exists today.
So every Saturday and Sunday for the last 23 years, give or take a few snow or heavy rainstorms, I have walked for at least one hour. It is the most peaceful time of each week for me as it is meditative and calming. It allows me a chance to hear the voices in my heart and relive the conversations from the past.
Sometimes when I am walking I sense a family member who has made their transformation from this lifetime. Suddenly I am walking with my grandfather George or Joey, grandmother Fannie or Gertie, my beloved Aunt Annette or Aunt Sara or Aunt Rita or now my recently departed father Jack. I walk and imagine them with me keeping stride with my meditative movement with its deliberate yet unexceptional pace. And I hear their voices and I catch them up on what’s going in the world or within my family. I speak to them. They talk to me.
In the last 8 years, I have had an iPod to provide a soundtrack for these brief journeys as the music bounces around from Ella to Opera to James Taylor. I love the random play mode since it’s provides the perfect pitch as I float among the family members who accompanies me on these hour long meditiations. I’ll find my mind jumping and dancing all over the place but after a short-while I’ll focus in on one conversation that provides me with perspective and insights and moments that ground me.
Today I walked with my Aunt.
Aunt Annette was a spectacular writer. She walked with me this morning and helped me think through a creative challenge just as we used to do together. And although the distance should feel like it’s an expansive void; surprisingly she feels closer. I hear her breathless voice speaking to me and helping me - as she sparks a new and clever insight into some little thing I’m thinking through. I hear her quiet words whispering wisdom and wit as only she could do. The problem is solved and always with a clever twist.
Walking is peaceful and filled with moments of calm.
It is a quiet that both heals the emotional heart and brings some level of activity to the physical one too. The walk allows me to push through my emotions- sadness, anxiousness, worries or fears - as I move energy through, past and around me. Each step is a chance to slow down and breathe with greater awareness and to help me let go of burdens I don’t need along my walk.
If I turn my head and glance back, I feel the remnants of feelings left behind. I no longer need to hold onto them as they drop off like unwanted weights. Like a cleansing- the walk is a chance to let moments dissolve and melt away.
Me. My shadows. My family.
Let's go for a walk.
Labels: Aunt Annette, Aunt Rita, Aunt Sara, Ella Fitzgerald, Gertie Slater, In Memoriam, Jack