Walking small

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

21 Replies to “Walking small”

  1. Susan,

    Not sure if this comes back to you or not, but I’ll imagine it does. What an exhilarating walk that was. I will print it out so Steve can walk there, too. What a lovely metaphorical story you wrote. Time for something new, rather than the tired old “stop and smell the roses.” Small steps seems to fit the distorted version of our former life we’re living right now. I truly felt as though I was walking with you and sharing.

    Steve and I have walked for 145 days straight in the James Way Parkway. We see lizards, (the rabbits almost totally disappeared after they bulldozed to prevent fires last year), we make up stories about flowers and leaves, saw three CA King snakes. While Steve was at Cliff Camp, before our 145 days began, I clipped a variety of grasses and flowers and filled a vase with a collection, many of which could be named weeds and enjoyed them until they wilted. So, when we walk, we’ll think about your journeys and your discoveries. We’ll keep hoping the bunnies return, so we can name another ‘Charlie.’ Perhaps more deer, a coyote or two, as the vegetation regrows.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Keith – Argghhh, political walks. I suppose they would help clear your mind. You are so courageous to parse through all that stuff for us. I will rely on all your good efforts to get me through the election. Many thanks – Susan


    1. Janis – I loved the Sari story so much when Ann told it, and it just kept coming back with different little wisdoms. (However, I’m with you about the comfort in clothes – give me room!) Thank you kindly for stopping by – Health and happiness to you – Susan

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This reminds me of my own daily walk, and also reminds me that I need to slow down a little, and take smaller steps. I walk the same trail every day and have names for all kinds of forest features that mark my way along – little stump, ancient stump, tree seat, first gate (although it’s not a gate at all, just could be one), second gate, and so on. I think I could just about walk it I’m my sleep now.


  3. Small works for me, too. I’ve decided that you can look for small things close by or look at the bigger view, but it’s not always easy to mix the two and you certainly get a very different view, literally and figuratively depending on which you choose.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janet – Wise words! This moment in time has allowed me the smaller view, and you are quite right – it’s very different, and gives me room to think differently. Thanks for dropping by – and – hey – I love tea – will be dropping by your blog to follow the mystery of your name – Cheers – Susan


      1. Susan, the name isn’t a mystery so much as it is a choice of last resort. Years ago when I was just starting my blog at the urging of my husband and younger daughter, I got it all set up…and then WP asked for a name! I had no idea and so chose “This, That and the Other Thing”, allowing me to go wherever I wanted. 🙂 I’ll look forward to your visit.

        Liked by 1 person

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