A two-mile walk around the track on top of Hames Hill today, although the name has changed more than once since it was called that. Currently it is called Anna Jean Cummings Park, and before that I knew it as O’Neill Ranch, but actually I call it “Blue Ball Hill” because an artist was commissioned to place several giant blue balls, made of concrete, along the side of the road leading up the level fields on top. The track is a one-mile oval, or loop, and today I walked two laps, in the high-noon sun.
It has been several years since I have been able to do much walking. The problem began when I developed neuropathy in my feet and legs. My toes began to sort of curl up underneath of my feet and the condition developed into a problem with foot drop. I had nearly given up doing any active walking, and had resolved to hobbling very slowly and carefully with either a cane or walking sticks. That is, until I discovered AFOs–ankle-foot orthoses. I obtained a pair of high-strength ones made in Germany, with the recommended prescription from my regular doctor, and I have now been walking for a couple of weeks.
My settled-in way of being, which amounted to mostly sitting all day, with very little true exercise, has quickly accelerated to a regular daily walk. The years of just sitting provided me a great deal of time to read, but now I feel the activity of walking may crowd out some of that reading time. This is good! I have already read way too much! Sometimes eight or ten hours in a day, to the point where my mind has becoming jaded with this extra powerful dose of knowledge acquisition. I needed badly to be able to get up and start moving, so the timing of my new preoccupation could not have been more perfect.
I am surprised, however, that I lived so long without ever hearing about AFOs. I would have thought that a doctor, or friend, or social media group, or somebody somewhere would have got me up and walking long ago. Only by stumbling across a reference to the term AFO, was I able to do further research on my own and locate the agency, a clinic, that would help assess my needs and get me fitted up with a pair of these marvelous high-tech braces.
So now I am getting used to the idea of walking, but it is slow because I really need to re-wire my own brain. My brain still thinks that I am going to trip over my own toes, even though the AFO makes that virtually impossible to do. I walk a little unsteady, but with a normal gait. When people pass close by me I get a little panicky thinking that they are going to bump into me and tip me over. The body and brain have to remarry each other once again, after being severely disconnected for so long.
I practice meditation (quiet, silent) each morning. That has helped me remain focused when so much turmoil goes on around me. With my body and mind disrupted from complementing each other for so long because of the neuropathy, it has made me sensitive to the serious disconnections that others are pacing themselves through these days. The culture in this second decade of the 21st century demands so much from people and the ability to remain calm and relaxed throughout the day looks like it is becoming a lost cause. Without the meditative practice, I would be challenged to know my place in the world any longer.
Most of the major world religions acknowledge the value of meditation. The gentle practice, or art, has been around for so long, in so many cultures of the world, that it is a little surprising how few people I know practice any sort of meditation at all. In its purest and simplest form it is merely a matter of sitting quietly each day, uninterrupted by the life of being busy, and quieting the mind by gently dismissing any thoughts that may occur, so that one may hear, at least for a little while, the inner peace that we are all meant to experience.
Reading, walking, meditating–this loop around the track of life has suddenly taken on a new dimension for me!