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Walking

I went for a very long walk with my husband in the warm sunshine yesterday. We started out near our home on the upper west side, meandered down to the river, and kept going for another three miles or so until we came to the Intrepid which was surrounded by armed soldiers and chock-a-block with tourists. Not exactly a peaceful setting. We walked away from the hullabaloo, the soldiers, the guns, and the memories of two awful shootings this past week. I’m working on a new project with combat veterans, Wednesday is Veteran’s Day, I’m thinking about the vets I know a lot, reading a lot about Iraq and Afghanistan, and I needed a rest. Hard to achieve sometimes but necessary to get the work done without collapsing. This is especially true when the subject of the project is emotionally charged. We have to keep going. We have to be strong. So, long walks are very important, literally and metaphorically. Walking is restorative even when the plantings on the trail dwindle and the scenery becomes industrial. At that point, I let my mind drift onto the Hudson and/or begin another conversation with my walking companion. We pretend to be tourists. Where to eat before hitting the Highline? We found a tucked-away local dive on Ninth Avenue—everything homemade, the Latina owner serving us personally, scrumptious cupcakes for dessert, a Sunday treat.

I always have ideas when I am moving and carry a notebook with me. When I was a runner and didn’t carry a notebook I’d bend down and scoop ash off the track and write on my arms. And when I am swimming, I try to hold the ideas in my head until I’m out of the shower and into the locker room. It doesn’t always work but my mind is so clear after exercise that all the important ideas return, albeit in slightly different form. But sometimes I don’t want to think about what I’m working on; I want to relax—completely. And though I had my notebook with me and at the ready yesterday, I didn’t write anything down except the word “apples” on my shopping list.

There were so many people walking the Highline that we couldn’t stop moving. It’s a transformed railroad track, not exactly a parkland, narrow, with interesting plantings on either side of the pathway. There are very few places to sit or lounge, and more views of the cluttered city skyline than the river. All told, we found it disappointing. But it wasn’t the whole day, it was only a part of the day, so it didn’t matter. We headed home on the subway and got back to our computers.
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