Last night I fell asleep on a friends couch while working on a paper. I awoke at 6 a.m. without feeling tired at all. I gathered my scattered things around me, put my backpack on, and walked out the front door. The journey on foot to my house is a little long, but certainly not impassable.

I love to walk. I think it's something I inherited from my dad. I remember when i first got home from my mission, he was in the habit of walking the 8 miles across town from work at least a few times a week. He would always call me at some point in the journey and tell me about where he was walking. It was always someplace different because he took a new route every time. There are few simpler things that make me feel more empowered and delighted with life than a good walk. It is always amazing to me when I face the fear of a distance with just my body. It's easy to get in the habit of thinking we can't go anywhere without a car, but it is a wonderful thing to just start going, and at some point arrive at your destination knowing you did it all yourself, that the world was not too big for you, that our simple two feet do still take us places, even far away places.

This morning as I walked, the moon was still up in the north sky. It was round and white, it hung there in the foggy blue clouds of the north sky. At first I thought to myself, it is so silent, but then I listened again, and realized that silent was not the proper word. Reverent, maybe.

I could hear the thick, northern clouds lifting and waking, lifting their blanket bodies from the mountains. I heard dry and tired leaves scuttling across the blacktop. I heard quietness which is perhaps the sound a sleepy valley echoes against the mountains. I heard wind chimes, and the wind in my ears. At one point I heard soft little bells. I heard the zipper hit against my backpack. I heard someone in their backyard working with a table saw.

As I was walking, I thought about a couple things that people have said to me recently. One, a friend was talking about the passage in Moroni 7, where he says that "all things must fail, but charity never faileth." I was thinking about how I've failed someone people, some more than others, and how I so often don't know how to reconcile my being so human, and therefore imperfect. But I realized that i am bound to fail at some things, we all are, but the one thing we can give and hope to receive, is charity. When we fail each other, all can be whittled down to charity, it holds us together like a thin string, maybe the one thing we have left to offer or take. It seems though, that it would have to be a charity beyond our capacity to conjour, maybe even beyond our desire to have it, the charity that God exhibits to us, and one we can only learn by study of that example.

The other thing I was thinking of was something Mary Cox said last night as she was teaching economics in the form of a children's song. She talked about sunk costs, and if I was understanding correctly, the idea that what has happened in the past does or should not have bearing on the decision that we make in the future. For example, if you were in a bad relationship, it is easy for us to say that we have to or should stay in the relationship because we've already invested so much time, we are emotionally involved, it is difficult to start over, but if we could see that experience as a sunk cost, and simply move on to new decisions, we would be a lot happier. I don't know quite in what context I was thinking of that concept, I'm certainly not in a bad relationship, but the idea seemed to be one that I should tuck away and think about more.

I love walking. I loved walking this morning. I saw three small houses for sale, and wondered if someday I would live in a small house, and get married and take my children on absurdly long walks. Part of me even hoped for it as I walked by. I saw lighted Christmas trees in front windows, including my own house, it brought the cozy joy of christmas. I saw a white plastic manger set nestled into the hedges of a front lawn. I was happy I'd gotten up early to take a walk.


shelly said...

Please keep on writing, Ash -- you write so beautifully! I've recently discovered the beauty of walking and thinking...

britt said...

You look like Christina Ricci in this picture. Very cute!

Steve Morrison said...

I love walking. Sometimes I feel that my brain only works when my legs are moving--like a hamster-wheel or something. Beautiful piece.
You might like this, if you haven't read it already: http://eserver.org/thoreau/walking1.html.