When I was in a tailspin after losing my job, I became completely lethargic. I couldn’t move. Entropy was a state I knew all too well. I kept looking up the word “entropy” in the dictionary, staring in awe at the definitions, they so perfectly captured the spirit of my deranged soul. “A measure of the unavailable [emphasis added] energy in a closed thermodynamic system” [which I once considered myself to be--please, no scientific quibbles here--we’re going for the poetic license of the depressed]. Then there was “a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder.” That would be me.
When spring rolled around, I began walking again, perhaps out of sheer boredom, or perhaps the warm air curled around the clenched fist of my heart and softened it a bit. It felt surprising to be a body in motion. I was pretty aimless; I just hit the street, and wandered wherever my feet took me. I let my mind wander, too. I didn’t get aerobic about the exercise--either mentally or physically--didn’t even think of it as exercise, for if I had it would have ended. When a pattern in the sand intrigued me, I stopped and looked. When chartreuse lichen on a wet stone caught my eye, I stopped and gazed. If I noticed a turtle sunning on a log, I stopped and soaked in the sunshine too. My walking had a rhythm of stopping and starting. And that was an improvement on being stopped cold.
Some days, I walked for miles. I would get home hours later, my feet sore, my hamstrings taut, but my mind would feel clear. Once I got into the habit of walking, I couldn’t stop. Something about moving helps me in everything else I do, especially in writing. It is almost as if I hit a reset button for my life every day. I relax, my thoughts untwist and unwind, and my body responds as well: I feel stronger, more flexible. I even began to sleep more smoothly (losing that herky-jerky waking through the night). I’m going to write more about insomnia, and bedtime, in another post. But to finish up with walking: I have been completely unsystematic, just letting myself grow into a new way of moving through the world. Now, if I don’t get out for a stroll every day--sometimes fast, sometimes slow--I can feel myself get jangled and gnarly. I am so glad to be a body in motion.