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Vignette 5/52. Walking and listening.

“Many people nowadays live in a series of interiors…disconnected from each other. On foot everything stays connected, for while walking one occupies the spaces between those interiors in the same way one occupies those interiors. One lives in the whole world rather than in interiors built up against it.”
― Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

I bought Solnit’s book on walking last year in California. I wanted to understand my husband’s obsession with walking. He looked at the book and laughed as he left for his daily walk with the dogs. I sat on the sofa and immersed myself in reading about walking. I am so grateful he loves me and all of my ridiculousness.

Although we live outside year round, I often “live in a series of interiors.” I read, reflect, and write. I sip my coffee and enjoy the stillness of my body.

Chris started his daily walks sometime in 2000. This is also the year we were married. I try not to read too much into this.

My daily walks began this past March after my intense research on the subject.

The morning walk with the dogs was a chance to speak privately away from the children. In March, all the children were home all the time. But this space for intimate conversation in the middle of the jungle (or the car, or the bedroom, etc.) can easily become a pot of slow-simmer micro-aggressions.

This was a shitty way to begin the day.

I remembered reading about Tony Robbin’s “Hour of Power” questions that he asked himself every morning.

  1. What am I happy about in my life now?
  2. What am I excited about in my life now?
  3. What am I proud about in my life now?
  4. What am I grateful about in my life now?
  5. What am I enjoying in my life right now?
  6. What am I committed to in my life right now?
  7. Who do I love? Who loves me?

We decided to try doing this Q&A session on our walks. The one rule is that the other person listens to the answers without comment or any type of feedback. This is easy because of the walking. Some days it takes our entire 45 minute walk to answer the questions together. Other days, or particular weeks of the month, I have the same answer for each question: “Coffee.” Again God bless my husband for tolerating my ridiculousness and listening without judgment.

There have been special times when our eldest joined us on our walk or all seven of us went on the walk for my birthday. But the same rules apply, answering the seven questions and listening generously.

As the weather has gotten colder, I have resisted walking during our visit to Toronto.

“…the subject of walking is, in some sense, about how we invest universal acts with particular meanings. Like eating or breathing, it can be invested with wildly different cultural meanings, from the erotic to the spiritual, from the revolutionary to the artistic.”
― Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

I needed to invest this cold walking with meaning. We do our seven questions but I needed something more tangible to get myself out there.

Hmmm…cultural meaning…walking…suburbs…cold weather…ah yes…

Festive flavoured lattes.
(It would have been Timbits but it’s too far a walk.)

I excitedly put on mittens and wool socks. I explain to Chris how I am able to see this universal act – walking – with the cultural meaning of an indulgent and overpriced hot beverage.

He laughs once again at my ridiculousness, waits for me outside the door, reaches out to take my hand, and asks, “What are you happy about?”

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