In The Company of Spiritual Seekers — Walking Through It

I’ve got no business writing.  Dirty dishes are stacked in the sink.  The hand washables haven’t been washed.  Finances need tending to.  Bank transfers.  Checks written to Weight Watchers, the IRS, and the state of Illinois.

I knew this when I got home, but I didn’t care.  I dropped my bags on the floor, traded a vintage tweed blazer for jeans and boots, and headed back out the door.  To walk.  First to the produce market.  Then on to the bank to deposit checks – dropping my groceries in the car – so I wouldn’t have to stop.

Neither of these errands was particularly necessary.  I really need to go to Costco and Trader Joes.  But I was “called” to walk instead.  It’s been happening a lot lately.

Just like when my ex first asked for a divorce.  I’ve written about this before.  I walked constantly, talking on the phone to one of my girlfriends – Sarah, Angela or Kate.  Kristen, Lisa or Pam – and more often, to my divorce buddy, Michael.

Lately I don’t talk.  I listen instead.  To the Talking Heads, over and over – Stop Making Sense.  I wasn’t aware that I was…

I remember telling Michael, and others I was “ahead” of on the divorce trajectory, that walking is the only thing that makes sense.

Still is.

I’m just surprised to be here again.  The frenzied rush to move, pushing aside all other responsibilities.  To feel the crisp, cold air cutting through my jeans.  My hands and cheeks flushed with blood.  My size 6 ½ feet rising and falling on concrete.

It’s not just any movement.  It’s the specific action of walking.  It feels so familiar in my body.  Fluid.  All four quadrants engaged at once.

And it has to be outside – no matter the temperature or conditions.  Outside of my home.  Outside of myself.

Which begs the question, what’s going on inside?

Quite simply, I’m lonely.

Not all the time.  Mostly when my days wind down.  When things go quiet.

My waking hours are busy, often joyous.  Filled with work and play.  Service.  Friends.  But when I come home, it is me, alone.  It still feels new.  Uncomfortable.

I grew used to another presence in the house.  Another someone at the dinner table.  Reading in the bedroom or tinkering in the garage.

In these moments I want to call my ex.  I want to call my old divorce buddy.  I want to call the cute boy down South who I knew for two days.

Naming them in quick succession, I am aware they are all one.  Each with the potential to take me out of me.  Or more specifically, out of my feelings of lonely.  Because each of them did – for a time, once upon a time.

In my twenties I used to smile and dial down a list of men I’d been with, looking for one to “make it ok.”   To tell me I was ok.  Today I know better.  That it’s nobody’s job.   And that the asking puts me in a weakened state – vulnerable, powerless and dependent.

But my brain is like a rubber band.  It snaps back to that old idea that somehow the answer to loneliness might be outside of me.

So why the walking?

In her book, Finding Water – the second in The Artist’s Way trilogy – Julia Cameron includes walking as one of the core practices, right along with Artist Dates and Morning Pages.  She notes that “spiritual seekers have always walked.”  And “We do not come home the same as we set out…

“When we walk by ourselves, we find ourselves companioned.  We set out alone but soon sense that the Divine is close at hand.  It comes as intuition, as insight, as sudden conclusion…Without shame or scolding, walking puts a gentle end to self-involvement.”

Perhaps that’s it.  Maybe I do feel a little less alone.  A little more “with” myself when I walk.

And when I’m done, the dishes will be waiting.  The “to-do” list.  Even the loneliness.  But somehow, I’m just a little more equipped to handle it all.

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