September is a month that I have always both hated and loved – hated because it marks the end of summer (the best season ever) and loved because it calls for the start of a new year. Perhaps decades of teaching have reinforced childhood knowledge that September is when things really begin. The month comes with a sense of joyful anticipation and sharpened pencils and the scent of books opening.
Is it just human nature to love the new? It must be the purity of the beginnings, no mistakes yet, no stains or tears. In Spanish, there is a word for a garment for the first time: extranar. Is that why I love the new dresses so much? If, like me, you are a walker, you actually get a new year every time you walk a trail or a sidewalk, even a year that you have walked countless times already, albeit a relatively short year. But still, just celebrate.
Walking alone allows thought, or rather an intoxicating mixture of thought and feeling, to come out of a seemingly endless reel to the rhythm of my step. This might be my favorite thing about walking alone, which is my favorite way of walking. But I can’t promise for sure, because on some walks what I love most is the sight of clearing the fog or the almost bird-like conversation sounds a squirrel makes. which always makes me respond with human words and become even happier when the bushy tail the beast responds. It is a two-species cat in two languages full of exclamation marks. Or maybe what I like most is watching a blue flower growing under the pines. Or being caught in the arms of desire, longing for where the feet will take you and what might be around the next bend and also longing for the thoughts you get when you put one foot before the other. I have noticed that the way a lot of people think while moving is quite different from the way we think when they are sedentary. Here are some recent thoughts that came to me while walking, moving in the water, or biking.
Even though it was many years ago, those words from my father, starting when I was a little girl, words that made a question that wasn’t really a question and that were said a lot more once stayed with me, continuing to stir up trouble: “Isn’t that enough for you?” The “it” varied but was always the result of my dissatisfaction and assertion, the result of my pushing a little too hard against my father’s rather inflexible wall.
It could have been a merry-go-round that I wanted to do over and over again for the breeze and the twist of it, or the taste of something sweet like the custard of a cannoli, or how it sang, but rarely, so j ‘really needed the song again:’ Mommy’s little baby loves shortnin ‘, shortnin’. Mommy’s little baby loves short bread. (My dad sang the The Andrews Sisters version of the song, but once I grew up and got familiar with it, I preferred Mississippi John Hurt’s rendition. And if you don’t know her, listen to the way Charles Mingus sings this song.) Hearing my dad sing this song, well, anyone would have wanted more. My father was uncomfortable with my insatiability and my greed. But is it greed when you’re only 4?
It’s still true for me; I almost always want more good things – anything good – and even going through this difficult time of the pandemic, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of good things, including a secure little house with a roof over it. that doesn’t leak, garlic, olive oil, sharp knives, a kind and loving husband, two cats that purr when I scratch my chin, dear friends and family, a phone, a creative mind, a pen, some paper , a pair of scissors, an aging body that works most of the time. I find it very helpful while walking or at other times to repeat this list as I once said the rosary.
Another thought has been repeated and repeated, often uninvited. It starts a bit here: many years ago I edited an anthology of poetry for young adults called “Truth & Lies”. A poem from this book has been the slogan of my recurring thought. This is a traditional song of the Crow people:
Bald Eagle Song
we want what’s real
we want what’s real
do not deceive us!
This poem has been replayed in my head, heard and aloud for a few reasons which all revolve around my recoil from the experience of living with deception. My hindsight could come from having been brought up in an alcoholic family where the truth was vague. Or it could just be another part of our human nature. In particular, in matters of importance, we need each other to be honest, to jointly recognize that facts and science matter.
My distaste for deception is particularly poignant at this time due to the loss of recognition of the need to speak the truth in our country that came to light and became so evident when Trump was President. It continues to play out nationally and horribly in the number of people refusing to be vaccinated for a number of outlandish “ideas”. In my own hometown of Del Rey Oaks, a lack of respect for the truth has become evident, as expressed in the hyperbolic thoughts and words of a small group of residents opposed to a path that will hopefully run through our town. despite their spoiled child. uproar.
Anton Chekhov said: “The task of a writer is not to solve the problem but to state the problem correctly. These days when I walk, cycle, or move in the water, I often get far too wrapped up in rephrasing the problem as properly as possible. The need for facts and truth and the knowledge that as individuals, families, cities and countries we are truly lost, far worse than in any forest, without the will to live with this most tenant. elementary. And, yes, still a greedy girl, I want more. More honesty. More paths to walk and more confidence in facts and science.