Month: September 2022

Musing While Walking

The morning light is soft and quiet as I step outside for my walk. The walk I resent having to take, but which has become necessary to manage a medical condition that is currently incipient, and which I can prevent by getting more exercise. So I walk. For a few minutes I feel alone with the world even though surrounded by my neighbor’s houses.

I pull out my phone to make a note of the feeling. Perhaps I’ll write a blog post when I get home. It has been a long while since my last one. I write memos sometimes when I’m out in the world and have a thought I don’t want to lose. My phone is new in my hand. Only two days old. I didn’t particularly want a new phone, but my old one died dramatically between one finger flick and the next while I was scrolling and reading. It froze and went black never to wake again. With modern phones there are many ways to transfer data from an old phone to a new one. Few of them work when the old phone won’t turn on. So I spent time discovering what things I had backed up in places I could still access and what things were gone. Phone settings retrievable. Photos in the cloud. Contacts…the only back up was at least a decade old. So I spent hours finding phone lists and manually entering numbers, emailing friends and asking them to text me their names, deleting contacts which are no longer relevant but which were now sitting on my phone.

All of this weighs in my mind as the new phone sits lightly in my hand while I walk. The familiar memo button is gone. My memos are gone. All of those thoughts I captured so that I would not lose them, are now lost. Perhaps they weren’t important, perhaps I should trust that the important ones will come back around to me at a different time and place. Yet when I discover that a new version of my memo app has the ability to retrieve my old memos from a cloud I hadn’t realized they were saved to, I am relieved. My thoughts are safely in my pocket again. I add a new memo to the stack and keep walking.

I have reached the corner of the busy street. My walk is no longer quiet and solitary. Cars drive past. A helicopter chops over head. A young family is walking on the sidewalk opposite mine, taking a skipping child to school. It is the same elementary school I used to take my children to. In fact, my entire walking path is that familiar route I used to walk twice daily during the years when saving on gas expense was critical to our finances. My life is so different now. I’d forgotten how small a child can be while still being old enough to attend school. My days are not bounded by drop offs and pick ups. Yet I walk this same loop with different purpose, and I walk here in the familiar because I am choosing not to spend gas to drive and walk somewhere more scenic. Repetition and variation in my own existence.

I pull out my phone and catch those thoughts too. Typing while I walk, I feel vaguely guilty for not being more present in the moment. For allowing a screen to draw my eyes away from the slight seasonal variations in my neighbor’s yards. The thoughts I’m capturing aren’t truly important. They’re musings. I could just as easily let them go. But the musings are more pleasant than the alternative, which is to let my mind churn on the To Do items of the day. The biggest of which is making a final decision on which of the people I interviewed I’m going to offer employment. There are rejection notices in my future, for people I would like to get to know better and be friends with. I wish I had the resources to hire everyone. To give opportunity and funding to all of the amazing people. Instead there are decisions. So perhaps noting musings on my phone is not so bad a focus while I’m walking.

When my loop is complete and I re-enter my cul de sac, it is no longer quiet. My neighbors are on the move. Cars coming and going as their lives run in parallel to mine. Inside my house I kick off my walking shoes and pick up my book of lists. Time to do all the things.

Arriving at Quiet

After a week of near constant urgency, I’ve finally landed in an open space. It is the open space that all of my urgent preparations were designed to create. I spent most of last week preparing to leave for this conference trip, worrying that some last minute Covid disaster would prevent my going, and also trying to set things up for a smooth return. Then when I got to Houston, all my days were occupied with the organizational tasks of helping shepherd nearly two hundred people from a hotel onto buses then onto a cruise ship where we immediately had to run an orientation session and multiple classes. It was all joyful, but busy.

Today is the first day in a port. No classes are planned. I didn’t book any excursions. It is just me with hours available. I just cleared the small admin tasks that chase after me via email. I finally have a moment to pause and decide exactly what I want to spend time on next. And I get to do it while looking at this view:

View of blue ocean and clouds from a cruise ship balcony

The next three days are as empty as this one. I’m interested to see what emerges in the space.

Packing Possibilities

I’m going on a trip later this week and I am packing for it now. Other people who are also going on this trip were making jokes about packing along books that they never read while on the trip. I do this too, and I have in the past felt bad about it. As if I somehow failed at a trip goal by failing to read the book I brought with me. This time I’m seeing it differently. I’m packing along these books and water color paints as possibilities for how I might spend time while I’m away from my usual pursuits. I won’t know until I get there whether these possibilities will speak to me during the trip. If I spend my time entirely differently, nothing was harmed by bringing along these possibilities.

I will do the same thing with clothes, make up, and jewelry. Each thing I pack is an opportunity to explore who I am when I’m removed from my usual context. The Sandra of vacation who has different paths for her days than the one who walks the familiar patterns of being at home. I will get to dwell in aspects of myself that are usually tucked away. I’m looking forward to that.