I’ve been walking a lot lately. This morning I woke up thinking about a quote from Oliver Wendall Holmes:
Walking, then, is a perpetual falling with a perpetual self–recovery. It is a most complex, violent, and perilous operation. . .
When I walk, I deliberately destabilize myself, catch myself with the next foot, and repeat the process. This is how I get places.
I stroll all alone down my street and then up the big hill. As I walk, I crunch the fallen and abandoned acorn tops with my shoes. That crackle of flattened cupule (the lovely word for the acorn shell) delights me somehow. My gait looks silly–Chaplinesque without the cane–wobbly and off-kilter as I seek out shells to flatten.
It’s a little dangerous and slippery. The shells cover the walkway and make me aware of my steps. I’m smiling with the game of it. Here I am, falling and recovering, leaving a wake. I’m unstable and then stable. But I’m still in the game.
Later, I arrive at the school doors and begin the walk home with two girls by my side. We three crunch acorn shells, each in our own segment of sidewalk. That microcosmic movement–walking–as a perpetual falling and recovery showcases the complexity of our whole journey. We fall; we recover; we get to crunch acorns on the way.
PS–I’m thankful for days of walking. For those who cannot walk today, I honor your journey. And for those in rehabilitation and physical therapy, I’ve learned from Holmes just how difficult that process is. Keep up the hard work! May God quicken your recovery!