The sun was so intense when I was out walking today, I had to lower the brim of my hat to keep from burning my face or being blinded as I turned to leave the park by the river. I couldn’t see the mountains, the river, the sky, or the two lone trees turning yellow in a world of evergreens, rocks and cacti. Just the ground at my feet. The gravel path. Then dirt with tire tracks. Then a patch of dust and weeds with a narrow path between the goatheads. Once I reached the street, I was no longer facing the sun, but my awareness had shifted.
Those steps with nothing but the view of the next step became walking meditation. I noticed the textures of each pebble, the curves of the tire tracks, and the green ground-hugging leaves and tiny yellow blossoms of the goatheads. Instead of seeing them as the foot-stabbing burrs they will become, I saw them as flowers. Walking slowly, listening, I only tilted my hat up to check for cars or snakes once in a while, then ducked back into my world of shade and single steps. Gravel-crunch. Wind-whisper. One step. Another step. The sensation of my legs moving, my feet contacting the ground. I should do this more often, even when the sun doesn’t force me into it. I used to teach walking meditation to my college students, and those were blissful classes.
Of course, I have no illusion that the rest of my job was bliss. It was work. The three-column to-do list on my desk ran into a second page most of the time. Things to do for work, to do as a writer, and to do for retirement planning. A few days ago, I went back to that system. Things to do for writing, for marketing, and my everyday life. The list is only one page, and two of the columns don’t even reach the bottom. Every day I cross one thing off, maybe two. Life isn’t about what I cross off, though. It’s a living moment. A single step.