Being able to move freely is a crucial part of my mental wellbeing and clarity. If something is not right with my body, I will not be able to think, to create, to perform. I will constantly be distracted by what’s gnawing at me. It’s possible I have an oversensitivity of some internal nerve receptors. The expansion of my stomach is unbearable if I’ve consumed too much of anything including water. The slight distension of my bladder could land me in the bathroom for an hour if I didn’t distract myself. There’s spinal pain from past injuries and working on concrete floors that steal my desire to do anything but rest on the couch. And there are the recovery days from a night of too much fun that find me so focused on my breathing, my heartbeat, and the rolling sensations in my extremities, trying to convince myself that I am indeed not dying, that there has been no aortic transection slowly growing wider, no cancer cluster slowly metastasizing near my diaphragm that truly steal any sense of security and desire to create. I am so often my own worst enemy playing out the roles of villain in the ongoing dichotomy of physical being and ethereal consciousness.
A movement towards harmony has uncovered itself recently and has greatly shifted the trajectory of recent months. I have started walking again. I have had intermittent affairs with walking and running. They usually start in spring and are quelled by the summer heat. Then by mid-summer through the holidays, I am simply too busy to get out for an hour each day, my body and brain too sore from work, my own lack of meal planning has left me voraciously hungry and likely not eating light enough to walk after. But this pandemic winter offers an opportunity to reset past poor habits. A daily routine where the needs of the body are paramount because those needs ensure the rest will fall into place.
The simple act of walking is so common to our movement that it almost seems insignificant. But I love walking. I used to walk miles in New York City just to be a part of everything, headphones in, creating my own music videos starring the scenes around me. In London, I would take the tube to a starting destination, then manage by foot until heading home for the day hours later.
It is more than the momentum forward, the full body connection of the walk that is so crucial to me. The movement of my legs starts just under my diaphragm, engaging my whole core in ways that yoga and pilates never quite can. I can pull in my transverse abdominis to tighten my belly while feeling my obliques engage with the swing of my legs at the hip joint. My psoas muscles pull at the back of my sacrum and wrap their way down my legs. My thighs feel thinner, my spine taller, my shoulders drop away from my ears and grant my arms a freedom of movement not possible while at my desk. I am a body in motion existing in three dimensions with only the force of gravity keeping me on the ground. Pair this movement with some happy music in my headphones and I’m liable to be dancing down the road. These are moments of ecstasy.
Aside from this high might be what follows after it: exhaustion. A joyous exhaustion that helps me wind down at the end of the day feeling as though I’ve earned the rest, that body and mind have done a ‘good day's work’ and the desire to simply do nothing is completely ok. No FOMO. No chasing time. Time, body, and mind were in tandem, shared an enthusiastic dance, and are retiring to their beds to do it all again harmoniously tomorrow.