Saturday, January 16, 2010

MEME 4: Look Up When I Am Walking

Let me share with you what I have been learning...

There are two parts to this meme - two physical actions that can occur separately, or together - but that are being called into simultaneous action.  1) Look up when 2) you are walking.

Let's start with walking.  That thing that so many of us do from the house to the car or truck or bus - from the car to the office - from the office to the vehicle of choice to our home.  We do a bit of walking when we go shopping - but now that malls are built on uncovered football fields, we find that we have to drive across the lot with a packed lunch to get from one big box look-alike outlet store to another.  Some of us (meaning you) are more physically active - but the simple act of "walking" is a rare and wonderous thing.

We have beautiful parks with walking trails, and very interesting neighborhoods to go walking in - there are even walking clubs like The Prairie Pathfinders. (other cities may have something similar).  But we don't need a club or even a map to go for a walk - we can just stroll around our own neighborhood.  You might want a friend to chat with, or some music or a podcast to listen to - but let's not isolate ourselves from the comings and goings around us on our stroll.

Back in the day, when I was a wild child living in the Osborne Village - and didn't have a television, my roommate and I used to go for long walks all through River Heights - looking at the old houses, admiring the gardens, and exploring our thoughts.  We would walk for hours.  We walked right through winter - except for coldest weeks.  But then - we both got boyfriends, and the after dinner walks slowly stopped happening.  We made different choices on how to spend our evenings.

After my "big Breakup" in 1993 (and I was once again tv-free), another friend and I used to go for long walks every Sunday - from downtown through the Forks, or all the way down Corydon, poking around all the shops.  It lasted all spring and summer, then life got busy, relationships got in the way of our habitual day of strolling - and those different choices were made yet again.

Methinks I see a pattern here that bears exploring.  Time to get a good pair of walking shoes and venture out - when the temperature permits cause right now it is -30 Celsius.  Now of course, I'm more concerned about falling on the ice and breaking a hip - the city does a mediocre job of plowing the sidewalks at the best of times.  But I hope I don't choose to wait until Spring.  There is beauty in the winter urban landscape - and fewer dogs outside to bark and scare me.

Now to the "look up" part.  I think this means to see the people, the houses, the buildings, the back lanes, the churches and other houses of worship, the old fire hall/now condos, whatever there is around me - and to appreciate it.  To smile and say hello to the people I may meet on the street.  TO ENGAGE with the city around me - my neighborhood - my community.

Looking up also means seeing the natural world and paying attention.  As a Pagan, I say that I worship nature but how much time do I spend out in it where the environment isn't just the venue for whatever activity I am participating in (like Folk Festival, Open Circle in Pagan Park, etc...).

If I want to participate in the changing of the seasons with more than an intellectual curiosity, I need to feel them change - notice the slight increase in brightness in the morning sky after Imbolc - see and hear the geese when the first few fly over, not waiting for the big flocks to demand my attention - to notice the little birds all fluffed up to stay warm near a heat vent, to see the crocuses poke through the snow in that great garden just south of Academy (but they won't be there long so I must see them while they are there.  The spring crocuses won't wait for me).

I need to get out more.  I need to see nature in action - and to go walking through my neighborhood - either by myself and enjoy the company of my own thoughts, or with someone and solve the problems of the world for an hour.

I experience miracles and epiphanies daily - and I am grateful.  I need to remember the touch of the Divine in all ways at all times through my days - and to trust that quiet inner voice that is both mine and not mine.  Maybe I'll look up and see the signs and wonders and get rune readings in the branches of the elm trees that have fallen to the sidewalk.  Or numerology from the random license plates that whiz by.  I need to look around. (cue CSNY: For What It's Worth).

I also need to look up.  I am somewhat infamous as "the cup half-empty girl" (hah- girl - what 50 year old women call each other).  Part of it is my inherent Libran nature - to see all sides and all possibilities, part of it is my inherent pessimism, part of it is learned behavior.  As I enter the second half of my mortal life, I have been going to more funerals than weddings, more retirement dinners than baby blessings.  I feel the losses of friends, or relationships, or even just of possibilities much more deeply - because I know that time is more limited, and that "we will not pass this way again."  My own bout with ovarian cancer in 2007 also  made me realize my mortality in a very visceral way.  I need to reconnect to "hope".

I need to look up some old friends.  I need to update my address book.  I need to write a few letters, (not emails), a few postcards (not wall posts) and make a few phone calls (not twitter dms).  I need to sit and drink hot sweet tea and listen carefully, and look up to others for guidance, and inspiration, and the pure enjoyment from the pleasure of their company.  I need to rekindle the hearthfire from the needfire and draw close to my Elders.

I need to look up.  I have come close to losing my faith in recent years.  My faith was saved by the sound of an electric guitar -and I will forever be grateful to a crazy Welshman for putting the monsters back in the closet and bolting shut the door.  On more than one occasion.  A wise man once asked me "who will you be when you are no longer the you that you are?" (paraphrased) and as the fibres of my life unravelled, that thin thread was the guide through the maze that brought me back to Brighid's altar.  She's not a Goddess for everyone - and I see her more as the Mistress of the Forge than the Lady of the Well or Flame.  I am the raw metal that She heats and shapes between Her hammer and Her anvil.  And I hope that I am learning.

We the people of the community ebb and flow through love and hate and apathy and disinterest and yet we touch each other's lives and are often there when the darkest hour is tolling to be - to do - to hold against the night.  And then with the rise of the sun, we pick up the past hurts and shoulder them like a bundle of well worn and very familiar tools, now that the tide has turned and the sandbags are holding against the rising.

When we know each other too well, love and acceptance and forward movement can be hard, especially if we (if I) keep my eyes firmly fixed on the past, on the road behind me.  We permit strangers more leeway on the narrow pathway to our heart than we do our friends, our lovers, our co-religionists.  We forget that we once found in each other something that made us look up - made us look inward - made us feel more whole.  I would look up into your eyes, and look up into the eyes of the Divine within you and say Namaste.

Take a walk with me - in this city we call home.  We don't have to talk.  Let us look up together and walk a while.  Let us see what the Street Runes tell us.  Let us hear the sound of the city whisper the wisdom of the Divine.  And then let's go for ice cream and find something to laugh about.

Enjoy the day,


  1. A great post.has inspired me to go a walk and take pictures where I live.I think sometimes we don't commune with nature enough or even appreciate our surroundings.

  2. Thanks, Aly. Let me know if you post the pictures you take on your blog - or Facebook gallery - I'd love to see them. Spent 6 weeks in the UK in 93 and loved it!

    May Nature speak to you!