Truth (In Step Counting)

“The goal is to take ten thousand steps per day, and once you do, it vibrates.”  “Hard?” “No,” she said. “It’s just a tingle.”

I bought a Fitbit of my own…Ten thousand steps, I learned, amounts to a little more than four miles for someone my size. It sounds like a lot, but you can cover that distance over the course of an average day without even trying…I was traveling myself when I got my Fitbit, and because the tingle feels so good, not just as a sensation but also as a mark of accomplishment, I began pacing the airport rather than doing what I normally do, which is sit in the waiting area…I also started taking the stairs instead of the escalator and avoiding the moving sidewalk…

To people like Dawn and me, people who are obsessive to begin with, the Fitbit is a digital trainer, perpetually egging us on. During the first few weeks that I had it, I’d return to my hotel at the end of the day, and when I discovered that I’d taken a total of, say, twelve thousand steps, I’d go out for another three thousand.  “But why?” Hugh asked when I told him about it. “Why isn’t twelve thousand enough?” “Because,” I told him, “my Fitbit thinks I can do better.” I look back at that time and laugh—fifteen thousand steps—ha! That’s only about seven miles! …

I was averaging twenty-five thousand steps, or around ten and a half miles per day. Trousers that had grown too snug were suddenly loose again, and I noticed that my face was looking a lot thinner. Then I upped it to thirty thousand steps and started walking farther afield…

I look back on the days I averaged only thirty thousand steps and think, Honestly, how lazy can you get? When I hit thirty-five thousand steps a day, Fitbit sent me an e-badge, and then one for forty thousand, and forty-five thousand. Now I’m up to sixty thousand, which is twenty-five and a half miles. Walking that distance at the age of fifty-seven with completely flat feet while lugging a heavy bag of garbage takes close to nine hours—a big block of time but hardly wasted. I listen to audiobooks and podcasts. I talk to people…

At the end of my first sixty-thousand-step day, I staggered home with my flashlight knowing that now I’d advance to sixty-five thousand and that there’d be no end to it until my feet snapped off at the ankles. Then it’d just be my jagged bones stabbing into the soft ground. Why is it some people can manage a thing like a Fitbit, while others go off the rails and allow it to rule, and perhaps even ruin, their lives? While marching along the roadside, I often think of a TV show that I watched a few years back—Obsessed, it was called…

For reasons I cannot determine, my Fitbit died. I was devastated when I tapped the broadest part of it and the little dots failed to appear. Then I felt a great sense of freedom. It seemed that my life was now my own again. But was it? Walking twenty-five miles, or even running up the stairs and back, suddenly seemed pointless, since without the steps being counted and registered, what use were they? I lasted five hours before I ordered a replacement, express delivery. It arrived the following afternoon, and my hands shook as I tore open the box. Ten minutes later, my new master strapped securely around my left wrist, I was out the door, racing, practically running, to make up for lost time.

David Sedaris, from “Stepping Out” in Calypso  (May, 2018)


Photo: Thad Zajdowicz with “Keep Walking

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call (Long Walk. Breathe Deep. Taste the Air.)

patty-maher-the-quiet-storm-photography

Take a long walk.
Breathe deep.
Taste the air.
Keep your eyes open.
Try not to think.
Wet your lips with your tongue.
Tilt your head slightly into the wind.
Separate the sound of a single stone
cracking under your boot.
Feel the difference in weight
between a milkweed seed and a blackbird’s feather.
Stray from the road on your way home
until you are waist high in wet corn.
Approach your house from the back.
Whistle for the dog with the white mark
like a crescent moon on his chest.
Look your children in the eyes when they speak to you,
and raise your eyebrows, and smile when they smile.
Notice your son’s mouth curves up on one side,
and his fingers are long and squared-off at the tips like his father’s.
Search your daughter’s right heel for the star-shaped scar
where they tapped her for blood when she was two days new.
Drop everything when your husband gets that soft, glazed look
and presses his palm into the small of your back.
Think to yourself how like the spreading roots
of a silver maple
are his hands.

Marcella Remund, How to Practice Poetry


Notes: Poem – The New Poetry. Photography: Patty Maher (The Quiet Storm)

Walking Cross-Town. Untied. Unhinged.

shoes-socks-mens

Eyes are closed. Water spills over shoulders. Steam spills over the top of the shower curtain. If there is a God, this is his Temple. One of life’s simplest and most magnificent pleasures.

I turn up the heat, and just stand, arms down, shoulders curled and leaning forward – I breathe.  Snippets of Mary Oliver leak in…”But mostly I just stand…in the middle of the world, breathing in and out. Life so far doesn’t have any other name but breath and light, wind and rain.”

Release.

I step out. Towel dry.  One eye is on the clock. Can’t miss the 6:16 to get to an 8 am meeting in Midtown.

I pull on knee length socks.  It was less than 30 seconds, 30 years ago, but his words still bite.  The wound still fresh, the cuts over something so small yet replayed thousands of times since and triggered each morning when I slide on my socks. “Over-the-calf socks are crude,” he said. “One shouldn’t see the hair on your legs. And polish your shoes.” Crude.

I button shirt. Slide on pants. Loop belt. Tie tie.

I grab shoes, set them down and lean over.

I pull on both ends of the laces on the left shoe.

SnapDamn! [Read more…]

Walking. Cross-Costco.

cream-puffs

We’re on a Costco run.

I’m generally not invited on Costco runs due to some Priors, some unfortunate displays of lack of self-control, some poor judgment, followed by regrets: “It won’t happen again.”

But rations were way down, there was some heavy mule work required, and so, here I am, with my adult chaperone.

The front of the store is stacked from floor to ceiling with 65″ HDTVs, deeply discounted laptops and seasonal deals on cell phones. Gadget man’s entire body is trembling, but is pulled forward with a scolding: “You don’t need any more. Come on!”

It’s 10:30 am and I’m working here on an empty stomach. The nose catches a whiff of chocolate and separately, of cheese. Sampling Stations! 

“I’ll catch up with you later.” I can feel the stink eye on my back, but first things first. I turn and head across the store, the stimulated nostrils acting as the GPS. [Read more…]

Walking: Just to be, and soak it in, rather than conquer it and tick a box

david-gray

FOLLOWING I don’t follow anything or anybody online; neither am I subscribed to any online magazines. I think I’m just too old and set in my ways for Twitter, etc. I still care about manners, spelling and punctuation, for Christ’s sake. Watching my kids and their intense relationship with the online world, I can see that it’s just a totally different mind-set; a different way of being even.

WALKING. These days my favorite pastime is to just go for a walk and if it’s out in the wilds, then all the better. Recent trips have included the Isle of Skye, the North Cornish coast and the Lake District, all of which were spectacular. It’s about taking your time to traverse rather than just climb a mountain and come back down again. Sometimes you climb up a mountain and find a tiny little lake, a weird little ecosystem with its dragonflies buzzing around. You just spend some time in this strange, magical spot. Just to be, and soak it in, rather than conquer it and tick a box. That’s my approach.

~ David Gray, from “Download by Kate Murphy” (New York Times Nov 26, 2016)

 


Notes:

  • Photo: Digitaltrends
  • If you’ve never heard of David Gray (what planet have you been residing on), check out his classic hit: Babylon

Saturday Morning

roberto-gioli-boots-reflection

The way I’d like to go on living in this world
wouldn’t hurt anything, I’d just go on
walking uphill and downhill, looking around,
and so what if half the time I don’t know
what for —

~ Mary Oliver, excerpt from 1945-1985: Poem for the Anniversary from Dream Work

 


Notes:

Truth

steps-exercise-chart


Source: Indexed by Jessica Hagy – Aim for 10,000 Small steps a day.

How?

walk-beach-florida

How could you
not love
the ground on which you walk?

~ Clarice Lispector, “The Buffalo” from The Complete Stories


Photo: Early morning walkers pass in Bal Harbour, Fla.  (wsj.com by Wilfredo Lee)

Saturday Morning

bird-feather-plumage-red-orange
He wakes to find his wife lying on her stomach,
the children on top of her,
one on her back,
the other on her buttocks.
They are sleeping on her, clinging, head to foot.
Their presence absolves him, slowly he grows content.
This world, its birds in their feathers,
its sunlight … reason, at least for the moment.
It consoles him.
He is warm, potent, filled with impregnable joy.

~ James Salter, Light Years


Notes:

Saturday Morning

patty-maher-photography-walk-red-hair

Few people know how to take a walk.
The qualifications are
endurance,
plain clothes,
old shoes,
an eye for nature,
good humor,
vast curiosity,
good speech,
good silence

and nothing too much.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson


Notes: Quote: thevalueofsoulmaking.com. Photo: Patty Maher (via My Modern Met)

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