28 days of walking: day 4

brew flowersWhile there are many benefits and joys to currently being in a place that I know really well, one of the downsides is that I am perpetually connected, or so it seems. Connected to people, yes – but even when I am walking alone, memory after memory washes over me. I am constantly connected to a history as I walk past the place where my best friend lived in junior high, or the hidden clearing in a woods where I went in the summers to read, or the driveway where I learned how to do layups, or the rental apartment from one autumn where I felt suffocated and a bit lost.

As I walk past these places, I sometimes find myself delighted and nostalgic, and other times find myself irritated. Why can’t I just really be alone, without all these ghosts? Why can’t I be in the present moment, as if these places are new?

Of course, the connections are also the gift of this place I know so well. The people who know my history (or at least some of it), the paths I know are safe to walk, the secret nooks that have been there since I was a child, the coffee shop where I can walk in and know that I will know someone – even if that person is someone from Milwaukee who has never lived here, but is visiting the family of a mutual friend.

I have been thinking about the difference between love and desire (in the broadest sense). I read an article recently that talked about how love is having (we love things we believe we already “have”), while desire is about wanting. In order to feel that delicious feeling of desire, we have to have something to want. Desire can spark imagination, mystery, problem-solving, and a sense of attention that can, in a somewhat paradoxical way, make us feel more present. Desire is about places and things that are far away, as yet undiscovered, or left behind for now – but it engages us in the process of getting there.

Desire, therefore, needs disconnection in order to be present. Love relies on having a connection already. Perhaps home = connection; travel = disconnection. For me, at least, I need both.

Walking to disconnect is different than walking to connect. Walking to discover is different than walking to remember.  Walking towards things we love (and have) is different than walking towards things we desire.

———

Today, I walked past a boy hitting balls pitched to him by a man that I assume was his father. As I watched, the boy solidly connected with the pitch, and given my own experience as a kid of swinging and missing more often than not when I played softball, I wanted to applaud and cheer him for hitting the ball. I expected a celebration between the man and boy. But instead, there was a moment of silence, and the man solemnly instructed the boy on how the hit could have been better, how his swing wasn’t quite right.

The man had a desire for the boy to connect with the ball in some sort of higher quality (to his mind) way. From my perspective, the boy connected! How fantastic!

A different kind of disconnection (the man and boy, my perceptions and their experience). A different kind of connection (the bat and the ball!). A different kind of desire (the man’s desire for the boy, my desire for the boy).

What did the boy desire?

brew flowers

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4 thoughts on “28 days of walking: day 4

  1. This all comes to me as I have spent the last week moving my mom into assisted living. You know this has been a challenging time for me, spiritually, physically & emotionally. And I’ve rather been putting one foot in front of the other… kind of too tired and overwhelmed to feel. It’s a combo of the week & the last few years of care for my mom. Oddly, I’ve had these brief burst of tears a couple of times… while in the shower… and while sitting on the toilet (TMI:)). Your writing of walks brings a little peace. A sweet thing. Blessings.

    • Clare, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and part of your recent journey. Thinking of you and your whole family as you move into a new phase. Sending you love.

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