An American friend who lived for years in India tells the story of her first successful experience wearing a Sari, the traditional Indian women’s clothing. She was tightly wrapped into the fabric by a Sari expert. When she complained that she couldn’t walk in such a confining garment, the expert said “Take smaller steps.”
I am living this advice right now. It might be a philosophical outlook on life, or a good recipe for putting one foot in front of the other. No matter how I look at the moral of this small story, it fits. My walks now call for smaller steps than I am used to. Even the territory I cover is small compared to walks I have taken in the past.
I take a step and appreciate things I wouldn’t have seen five months ago. I remember the place where the bunnies hide, where to get the best view and how to avoid the crack in the sidewalk from all the past times I have come this way. I know how fast the plants grow and where the roots of the biggest tree loop over each other in a braid. Smaller steps give me the chance to be grateful for some simplicity in life and the fact that I can still get up and go.
There are so many things to look at when I am looking for details. Just three feet away hovers a huge bumble-bee-like creature. Its chubby body stays suspended mid-air. Two tiny frogs jump out of the wet grass, and bounce into the weeds. Weed or unknown local plant? Or both? If I study the growing things for a moment or two – or three – I can activate my memory enough to investigate with my northwest plant guide when I get home. It’s a luxurious feeling, taking my time and slowing my steps.
I notice I am measuring in units much, much less than a mile. In front of me is a curving stone path and I wonder if I can build something like that in my own yard. Three paces uphill and I see the berries are ripening on vines that have been growing since early spring.
Maybe I can even have a walk in my mind, and maybe that can be enough. So many great walks are there for the imagining. Or even remembering. Inside my head is a mental recycling plant that lets me enjoy rambles twice. In fact, it’s a good investment: Next time I go on a walk in a new place somewhere far away, the routine won’t be such a rusty old process.
Is your walk philosophical, real, or a nice blend of each? Is it long or short, and does it change with the seasons? Stepping out of our usual habits isn’t all bad – it’s something to think about next time we put one foot in front of the other.
Long walks or short, large steps or small, it’s up to each of us to keep going in our own way. Maybe we can’t make the Saris of the world adapt to us, but we can do small things to adapt to the world. If I can hear a great story from a friend along the way bringing me laughter and making me think, all the better.
Thank you, Ann