Today’s Daily Prompt poses: Your entire community — however you define that; your hometown, your neighborhood, your family, your colleagues — is guaranteed to read your blog tomorrow. Write the post you’d like them all to see.
Although, as this blogger observes, I thought that’s what I was doing already, this one did give me pause. And here’s why—
This morning I decided to check out another walking venue that I haven’t seen in many years. South of the city, along the same wiggly Seine River that winds past the old monastery, is a wooded area called La Barrière Park. It’s at least 25 years since I last set foot in this park. Then, I was a young teacher supervising a school picnic, surrounded by noisy teenagers. Today, aside from the maintenance crew and a couple of dog walkers, I pretty much had the place to myself.
But before that I got lost. To get to the park I had to drive through a new development that has been going up in the south end of the city. There are roads that are so new they aren’t on my map. And there are no meaningful landmarks—just acres and acres of huge, beige and grey boxes. At one point I ended up on a brand new stretch of road that ended abruptly in a massive dirt field. I came very close to just giving up and backtracking my way to a more familiar haunt, when suddenly I found myself on what I knew to be the right road, going in the right direction. Phew.
When I finally found my way into the park, I left my car alone in the parking lot and set out along a rough maintenance road, past the picnic shelters and the baseball diamonds, over a solid footbridge, and into the woods.
The forest was quiet. The sound of fallen leaves crunching softly beneath my shoes was occasionally punctuated by the rustle of a bird or squirrel moving through the branches above. The path was wide and well-maintained, but in such a way that it didn’t feel like a human construction. The only litter on the forest floor was the natural forest litter of fallen trees and broken branches, many of which were thick with moss. In one spot someone had perched a split log atop two adjoining tree stumps to fashion a primitive bench.
Something about the forest felt safe. Safer, I realized, than I felt driving around lost in the new subdivision.
Tomorrow is the last day of my leave. Monday I will be back at work. Back in the “real world” after many days spent walking and thinking and writing. It’s time to go back; the muscles around my new hip feel strong and my leg feels stable. When I step on the bus on Monday morning I won’t be carrying a cane.
But I’m going to miss the slow rhythm of these days. I know I am going to have to fight to maintain the sense of equilibrium that I have found with all this time to squander. I’m going to have to be very intentional about making time to walk in the woods. Time to think. Time to write.
And the thing that bothers me most is that as a community we seem to accept that that will be the case. We accept that life is hectic. We accept that “busy” is the norm.
I want to continue to challenge that notion as my own “busy-ness” ramps up again in the coming weeks. I am determined to keep wandering in the woods, and not to get lost among the boxes.
And I want to challenge you, my community, to slow down. And go for a walk in the woods.