Witness Walking

Although I’m glad that I opened a bit of space in my writing calendar last month, I’m happy to be returning to this Friday rhythm of welcoming you to the weekend! Thank you for giving me the time, and for being here now. A lot can happen in a month—as it did in my July, especially with meeting beloveds—and I’m grateful that there was the room for that. An update on Magnolia: She’s still in the process of aging down (it turns out that there are a lot of details in a young adult novel that speak to the protagonist’s specific age!), and I’ll keep you posted on her complete transformation into an eighth grader.

About 20 years ago, I jotted down on the pale colored side of a paint chip sample card a list of five ways I wanted to show up in the world, just an adjective followed by a noun, relative to my partnering, parenting, and being. I wrote the list with a fine point black Sharpie, and I’ve refreshed the writing over the years as the letters have faded even as the intentions have deepened. I keep the card in my planner and refer to it frequently; its edges are worn and curled, but it has been a surprisingly resilient little piece of thick paper. Although four of the entries on my list are too personal to share here, the first one is Compassionate Witness.

How does one go about the processes of seeing and listening, of understanding and hearing deeply? What does it mean to engage in those processes mindfully and wholeheartedly? There can be so much noise and distraction in the signaling that is both sent and received, and it can take an enormous amount of responsive considerations and holding in order to synthesize the details into something resembling insight and wisdom. Walking is one of the physical tools I use to witness: From my observations of and experiences with the weather, to the transformation of my body over the miles of movement, to the topics of meditation or conversation, the sustained and steady pace reveals further questions, workable solutions, possible truths. One Saturday last month, R and I walked 21,767 steps together—over grass and clover, gravel and cement, converted railroad tracks—accompanied the whole way by an extended Lucky Song (not the Dean Martin version!) on the universe’s abiding soundtrack.