Friday, December 2, 2016
For the first time today, I noticed I was walking like a Jamaican. Jamaicans don’t “walk” so much as they stroll, they saunter, they meander…and it wasn’t until about halfway home that I realized I wasn’t racing to one of the imaginary finish lines I often create in my mind. I was suddenly just walking. And that revolutionary act transported me to a world that I occupy but am not really a part of. The observation from those moments was enough for me to rethink my whole racing strategy because there was real, tangible joy to be found on the other side, where sandals meet the road.
During that long walk home, my eyes locked onto other eyes and held gazes that revealed humanities composed of infinite stories and ancestors, as complex, rich and meaningful as my own. I felt and can internalize and identify with the phrase “the grass tickled my feet.” I have now heard the songs of birds while discovering a mahogany-magenta-maroon color that I’m not sure Crayola’s 96 has managed to capture in quite the same way as that flower. I heroically survived a tense encounter with a ferret (what Jamaicans call a rrrat – a hard r laced with a trace of disgust) as he watched me, watching him, watching me; both of us wary and thankful as we parted ways. And remarkably, my body remembers how to walk, though I have often created my own abnormal, unsustainable, ungodly rhythms that leave me sweating, exhausted and aching, my body knows my natural stride includes a gentle swinging of hips, though I have long tried to subdue it, and feet that don’t so much step but glide over asphalt and ant; how quickly I unlearned all the harsh lessons I’ve taught myself.
When you suddenly appreciate how full a moment can be and see what was previously unseen, in reflection, you also come into close contact with what’s absent. On that long walk home, I did not think about the election once. I did not think about what I would have for dinner or a snack. I didn’t think about buying Christmas gifts or creating grocery lists or any lists at all. The omnipresent, self-induced anxiety cycle ceded for while allowing new prioritization and restructuring of a truth long suppressed: connection over technology, natural over manufactured, curiosity over fear, inhabiting over externalizing, and journey over destination.
And I want that for you, my dearest friends. I want you to walk with me, if even for just a few seconds. I know during this time of year, that during this time in history, that with a society constantly telling us there is not enough time and that we are not enough, telling us only about absence, lack, scarcity and need…that walking this way can seem impossible. But I am witness to what’s on the other side and my desire for you is stronger than the misguided belief of impossibility. You can see humanity the way I saw it, hear the birds sing the way I heard them, experience color the way I saw it, you can trust and come home to yourself; forgetting by letting yourself remember what you have always known. Forget the broken hearts and promises, forget the election and divisiveness, forget the endless amount of work that will always exist, forget the real and self-created responsibilities, forget the hurt, the past and the pain for just a little while. Let your body do what you are convinced it doesn’t know how to do; let it lead you home. Connect. Commune. Wonder. Inhabit. And for just a little while, may your destination not be nearly as important as your journey. As they say in Jamaica, “Walk gud my friend, walk gud.”*
*An expression used to wish good fortune and a good trip on departing travelers (Wiwords)