The Morning Walk

Holly: Zen Labradoodle

The Morning Walk is a daily ritual of My Suburban Life.  It may appear that I am just walking my dog, Holly, but the walk is for my benefit as well as hers. Although she is always with me, it is a time when I feel alone with my thoughts. It is my time to worry, complain, plan, and dream. Sometimes I may mull over a difficulty, other times I will reflect on what is good, or plan for what is possible.  It was during one of these walks that the whole idea for this project kept bumping up against my thoughts.  I resisted it for months, but then decided that I either had to stop walking the dog (not an option) or surrender to the idea.

I usually allow my mind to wander through its habitual patterns of re-playing the past or worrying about the future. Sometimes an idea or solution will rise to the top and I take this little gift home and into my day. But I learned that sometimes it is important to let go of the inner dialog, and just experience the walk for what it is– a sensory delight of fresh air, sights, smells and sounds.  It was Holly who taught me this. On work days, I am in somewhat of a hurry, needing to get the walk over with so I can go on to the day’s tasks. My mind churns ahead to my To Do List, and replays the detailed litany of things not to forget. I walk briskly and with an intention on the finish line.

Then Holly stops. I tug on the leash and she does not move.  She is transfixed, staring silently into a grove of trees. Annoyed, I tug again. Finally, I give up and stop to see what she is looking at. The incessant conversation in my head quiets, and suddenly I hear the birds. They are so loud I can’t believe I didn’t notice them before. I peer into the woods and see the subtle movements of the dry leaves in the wind, the sudden flicker of a squirrel’s tail, the patchwork of dark and light shapes among the branches. I smell the dead leaves and the cold air. I notice my breath and the weight of my limbs and remember that I am alive. We walk home and I am grateful for the walk, for Holly, for my life.