“Methinks, that at the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”
Henry David Thoreau, 1849
Sweetie has been sick for a week. Coughing, sneezing, achy, lose-your-voice-and-sleep-in-the-guest-room kind of sick. Except for a few cups of tea and a chocolate milkshake he has resisted all my ministrations, refused to go to the doctor.
Last Saturday morning, I started feeling sick too. I was awake at 8:30 am. Eyes wide open awake, not get up to pee and go back to sleep awake. When the thought of getting out of my warm bed and going for a walk entered my head, I touched my forehead to check for fever. I didn't feel warm, sweaty or clammy. I was sure, however, that the onset of such spurious thinking must have dire physical origins. A loss of brain cells that control the control the urge to exercise, perhaps? Or a worm that crawled in my ear and took up residence in my brain devouring the things I like to do (sleep) leaving the things I don't like to do (exercising).
Exercise is not my default setting. I'd much rather sit at the computer with a Coke and chips than move in a way that might work up a sweat. I'm pretty sure that Elizabeth Marro was the gardener who planted the walking seed. Elizabeth wrote on a recent blog: "… a woman sometimes “needs to let in the wind, rain, sun, and to feel the blisters on her feet harden. She needs to let her body lead her sometimes and to trust it no matter her age.” Like the amaryllis bulbs peeking out of the dirt in my front yard, my soul must have decided the time for some sun had come.
Drastic symptoms call for drastic measures. I threw back the covers, donned some sweat pants, and went in search of unused walking shoes. I found them in the farthest, darkest corner of my closet. Making sure I didn't disturb Sweetie or the animals I tiptoed out of the house. Without any stretching I headed down the street, moving forward at a slow yet steady pace. Once outside in the fresh air, I decided that I did not have a brain-eating parasite or the flu. It was just my soul whispering for me to cross yet another threshold.
Although my legs began to quiver, in reality I didn't walk far. Far is relative, right? One half mile or five miles, my journey had begun. Here's the curious thing. Instead of falling back into bed when I got home, I pulled on some gloves and went to town whacking down frozen elephant ears. There is something freeing about giving something a big whack with a giant machete.
I figured all this exercise would be a simple reminder of why I don't go in for strenuous, heart-healthy cardio programs even though I know it's good for me. At 63 years old, I figure I don't have to do what I don't like doing. This is an okay excuse when it's 99 degrees with 100% humidity in the summer; a whiny justification on a pretty day. I did not expect to awake the next morning with the exact same desire. Oh Lord, I prayed, please don't make this a regular thing. Even with the pillow over my head, a small voice urged me up and out.
Damn if it wasn't there again this morning. I tried writing. The words refused to come. I put the computer down and I went for one more stroll, not power walk, through the neighborhood. When I got home, I found a blog waiting for me. Divine intervention? Like that show on TV where the family talks a loved one hooked on drugs into going to rehab? The difference being it's my voice, the one I haven't listened to in decades, encouraging me to change.
Leave it to scientists, who probably spend more time in their labs than out of doors, to find new evidence "that walking is important for both health and the creative process."
"I told you so," said my creative muse in her nanny, nanny boo boo voice.
"Get out of that bed. Step away from that desk," exorted her muscle-bound, previously published cohorts.