I walk every morning. As I look out toward the vanishing point I realize that even on this road that I know so well, there are gifts I have yet to find. The deal is that I must keep walking to find them. I can’t slip into lethargy, close down my senses, or turn back if — when — I stumble.
When I walk in the morning, no matter how I start out, which is often less than blissful, soon my mind starts to clear and the threads begin to detangle. When I was a kid, my aunt Pauline used to massage conditioner into my hair, scraping my scalp with her long shiny nails, and then gently drag a comb through to take out the knots that had gathered on my pillow. Similarly, my walk begins to detangle the nots that tend to cluster in the night.
As a practice, walking in the morning allows me to step incrementally out of the world of the unconscious. I take the time — without fail — to transition from the inner landscape that arises in sleep to the external landscape of which I am just one small part.
Waking up is a process. After opening my eyes to any given day, I find it essential to open my eyes to myself in this particular day. Walking is my meditation, each exchange a kind of landing wherein I gather my own personal language of reciprocity. What will I contribute today? What will I receive? Reciprocity is refreshed each morning as I first claim myself, giver and taker, in this space called life. With each step, I listen deeper, broaden my gaze, sync my breathing, feel the air stick to or skip across my skin.
It is simple: The days are so much better when I prepare for them. In finding my own practice and then letting myself enfold that practice, protecting it from forgetfulness, I claim the ground under my feel. Such a practice doesn’t guarantee that the day will go well — it is that I will go well in my day. Every single morning I try to wake up completely, rise up, move out of my default passivity, that sleepy wishful thinking, and declare myself proactive … ready for what’s next.