Movement and Meditation

What We Carry

You know when the air on your four-mile walk feels cool(ish)—but you learn, when you return home and check, that the outside temperature is actually still 90 degrees—that you’ve maybe been living in Central Texas for a while and going for midday jaunts during increasingly hot summers. It was humid yesterday, too, and that, along with the slight slant into fall here at this 30° N. latitude, filtered and softened the sun’s rays against my skin. Having hydrated sufficiently in the hours before I stepped out of the house, I didn’t need to bring a water bottle with me; no danger, on such a mild(!) day, of overheating.
The standard route I’ve established since the pandemic is along a generous and usually empty sidewalk, the primary stretch of which abuts a wide, lightly travelled road, with the sky arching overhead, the wind blowing, the wild grasses bending in the undeveloped fields. I meditate and pray about my usual concerns: all my people, my work, my husband’s work. I find the knots of thought, of heart, and work through those, step after step, one gust and another, the sun either straight above me or on the right side of my face as I go out, on the left as I return.  
I felt significantly lighter without the 24 liquid ounces I usually carry with me, 24 ounces that are normally hanging from my hand, at the end of one arm, that arm’s otherwise easy swing anchored and stilled by the weight of the water. One and a half pounds. As I settled into the pace, I scanned my body from head to toe, intrigued by the liberating difference in the experience from walking when carrying something weighing 1-1/2 pounds to walking without it. And I thought about how over the past eight and a half years I have (steadily and unconsciously) gained 27 pounds and then (haltingly and purposely) lost them. Among other comparisons, that’s the weight of three, nine-pound bowling balls (evenly spread within and over my body, manifested as a couple of pant sizes, half a shoe size, even a ring size).
Also: The weight of the three babies I bore, the oldest of whom I sent out into the world—his two younger brothers following at even intervals—eight and a half years ago.