Walking Softly

EC7EDED5-F1D1-41F0-B946-67D8CDA468C2I was grumpy. The seeming cruelty of February was in full force. Temperatures have mostly been 25 degrees below average in the coldest trough of winter. When it has warmed up to balmy temperatures above zero, we seem to have been blessed with freezing rain followed by snow. Walking anywhere out side is an icy tiptoe, at least if remaining upright is a goal of the walking.

Snowshoeing can be an option. But it is the only option when walking off a plowed or shoveled surface. So yesterday Max convinced me to drive to our hunting property to go for a snowshoe walk. It would be a gentle stroll in the soft and comforting snow.

The temperature was in the single digits below zero. I had to remove my mittens in order to secure the snowshoe bindings to my feet. I can’t kneel anymore due to an aging body and an artificial knee. Bending over has been difficult since my strokes in that I seem to get very winded in a matter of seconds trying to do so, even though my heart and lungs are in good shape. My unmittened hands went numb in the process.

I couldn’t secure the bindings of the snowshoes and my intended pleasure walk was not to be. I couldn’t disappoint Max so I went for a short trudge through the deep snow and then turned around after a few hundred awkward, struggling steps. I was already frustrated because I had had trouble finding my snowshoes from last year’s storage and I was grumpy about the cold. I was angry at the seeming conspiracy of nature and snowshoe bindings and considered trying to refer the matter to Robert Mueller.

Yet, anger leads to fear and fear leads to hate and hate leads to the dark side. Or something like that. I could never keep Yoda’s phraseology straight.

As my frustration grew, so did a little voice inside me. I know I’m not at my best when I get frustrated. I look for others to blame. I get snarky. I’d be toxic if others knew what was running through my head. I’ve learned, at least on occasion, to stop and listen to that little voice. That little voice was reminding me of the Apostle Paul’s words to the Philippians when he told them to always rejoice.  He also told them to let their gentleness be evident to all and to not be anxious about anything.

Of course this is all nonsense to our enlightened 21st Century minds. We know it’s best to shout our anger past one another in 140 characters or less. We seem to think it makes us feel better to find others to blame for things we can’t control and they probably did not cause. We think that if we can seem more clever than someone else, more indignant or more hurt, that a positive result will ensue. I fall into that way of thinking often. And end up potentially harming myself and other people in the process.

So while I couldn’t walk softly in the actual snow, I walked softly in my mind. Or at least I tried to. Eventually it occurred to me that the world was not going to end because I couldn’t have my walk that day. I realized that many things that seemed like disappointments in the past have turned out just fine when I was forced to go down a different path.

As for rejoicing always?  That doesn’t seem to make much sense to me and I’m sure I wouldn’t often be successful at trying anyway. But why not give it a go?  Is it a better admonition to be frustrated always?  Maybe I’m fortunate to be trying the walk the next day. Snowshoeing can be an almost ethereal experience when undertaken in the right state of mind. I notice a set of tracks in the snow and wonder about the animal that made them. I see snow flakes gently falling and can almost hear them as they contact the powder on the ground. I laugh as Max makes snow angels with his good natured canine enthusiasm. But I don’t get to experience those things when I’m frantic and frustrated. I take the walk but miss the point of doing so.

So I will try again today. The temperature is about the same but my blood pressure is considerably improved. It’s gently snowing. This time, I think I will be able to be gentle. And hear the snowflakes fall.

copyright Daniel Blake 2019

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