A Walk

laguna

It’s not just the movement or the fresh air. There’s something deep that gets satisfied. After sitting at a desk all day, with my mind deep in the far corners of the web, a walk puts me right into the world of physical things. The infinite subtleties of light, texture, and smell are a relief.

I prefer walks along the Laguna to walks though town. With its huge oaks, slowly-moving water and noisy birds the Laguna has a calmness that allows my awareness to expand. I can look far and it stretches the tired muscles of my eyes. The interactions between the inhabitants have an organic feel, so unlike the predictable ordered interactions of my code.

I love the transition from “creator” to “player” that happens when I leave the computer for a walk in nature. Instead of being responsible for EVERYTHING, I get to watch things happen and be acted upon. There’s a letting of control, like releasing a breath held too long. It’s so easy to get caught up in control of everything. Our modern conveniences allow us to control light, temperature, cleanliness, growth. When I step into a wild place, I’m reminded that I’m not it’s master, a part of it certainly, a steward perhaps, but I can’t tell the hawk to dive, or the mouse to nibble.

Passing the blackberry bushes in bloom, buzzing with bees, I can almost taste the sun-warmed juice running down my tongue. The flowers smell a bit like the berries taste, how perfect.

I often leave my phone at home when going for a walk. It changes something. With it, I can access the global world and it can access me. As I put it on my desk before heading out, there is a brief moment of anxiety. It’s got a grip on me, but when I leave it a home, I feel again like my young self playing at the river, a little lonely. Now, I appreciate that feeling. It makes me aware of all the little lives around me: the grass, insects, animals. Instead of holding an invisible thread through my phone to all the world’s knowledge and all the world’s people, I connect to my immediate surroundings. I become aware of the wind on my face and the expansiveness of my awareness. It reminds me of a story I heard, in which a child who has been raised on TV and video games goes out into nature. His comment: “It’s so high resolution”. Perhaps it’s our attention, squished, streaming through the silicon and metal threads of digital communication that provides the contrast. Out here it’s super-broadband, all senses firing. I love it.

A snake flies by, held in the claws of a white-tailed kite. The kite circles once and lands in the top of a tree. It looks like a nest, perhaps occupied by his brooding mate. It is late spring and babies of all kinds will be coming soon.

2 Responses to “A Walk”

  1. Ted Page

    Ben,

    Really enjoyed reading your experiences that sparked so many of my own personal memories from decades past. I was very active in Boy Scouts and accumulated several personal goals (few 100 mile hikes, couple 50 milers, mile swims, week-long camp outings, and earning my Eagle Scout). The Pacific Crest Trail was my religious sanctuary that was always impossible explaining to others. I am 46 now (an old man–lol), married 26 years, have two children, and even have two grandsons that I’m fortunate to live by. My career followed my insatiable outdoor passion of environmental stewardship in mining, recycling, and heavy equipment. I hope someday to return to the PCT and complete the entire trek–with proper budgeting and planning of course. I quit drinking 6 years ago and smoking/chewing 6 months ago needing more positive long-term addictions. Thanks for your actions, passion, and pictures reminding me the importance of setting new goals for living. That’s so important than becoming miserable in the daily routines of surviving.

    Sincerely,
    Ted Page Jr.

    Reply
  2. Ben Klocek

    Thank you for your kind comments Ted.

    I just read an awesome little book by Thich Naht Hanh called “How To Sit”, and one quote in particular stood out to me: “The quality of your presence is the most positive element you can contribute to the world.” It’s those daily routines and how we go about them that define our contribution, and our experience of living.

    What do you want your contribution to be? 😀

    Reply

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