Walking

Sometimes you just have to walk – walk on, walk it off, one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. My walks aren’t so much planned anymore. I just get up and get out of the house and do it, for example this evening.

After I woke up from a nap, I came downstairs and sat in my rocking chair, trying to wake up. It was approaching 6:00 and much too late for me to have caffeine. I sat there staring out the front windows and fiddled with my I-phone. I discovered I had a flashlight app. That’s good and could come in handy. Alise and I exchange a few texts. She mentions she is missing her dad. Me too.

I see out my windows people walking by. There are always a lot of people walking this time of evening. My neighborhood is newer but it’s quaint. The tree-lined streets are slightly narrow allowing parking only on one side. On my block our town homes are fairly close to the sidewalks and most of us have front porches. It’s very Americana. The only thing missing is the picket fences.

It reminds me of old movies like It’s a Wonderful Life where houses line up in neighborhoods and have sidewalks in front with lots of people walking by. That always stood out for me because it didn’t seem real. Where are they going? Oh, it’s just movie stuff, not reality. But in my neighborhood it is real. There goes another person walking their dog. Here comes a young couple with a stroller.

The longer I sit in my chair the more I ruminate. I’m facing some uncertainties in the near and far future of my life. Hey, who isn’t? It’s just that those nearer uncertainties have me preoccupied.

I need to distract myself from thinking too much. Hmm, I’ve already had dinner… at 4:00, a tuna sandwich with Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey for dessert. Oh look, there goes another happy couple walking by my windows. I feel a downward spiral coming on. Nope, not gonna let that happen. I’m out of my chair and up the stairs to find my walking shoes.

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I like to walk at a sports park that has a half-mile track in Nolensville. Nolensville is a 15-minute drive south of my Nashville neighborhood. There is really only one road between us and if I leave too early, say before 6:15, I’ll be stuck in traffic and it will take me twice as long to get there. It’s 6:30 so no problem.

This stretch of Nolensville Pike is unique. It’s still has its country charm. I love it. There are plans to widen it and add more development but that will take a couple of years. In the meanwhile I’m enjoying the picturesque abandoned old gas station with its old timey gift shop, the historic farmhouse with its multi additions and cows in the field, and the few left over 1960s and 70s businesses that are still open.

The track is at a left hand turn just past Old Nolensville’s town center where there is a funky diner, a car-crowded mechanic shop, a small Amish store, and a variety of gift and antique shops.

I’m already feeling better.

I park and gather my keys, my phone, and my ear buds – oh no! Where are my ear buds? I can’t walk without music! Eight trips around the fields are going to be pretty boring without a soundtrack. I’m already thinking I won’t do my 4 miles. Just go, just do it.

This is a family place. On the way to the track I walk past teenage girls teaching little girls how to cheer. Their parents sit on picnic benches waiting and watching. The track surrounds football and baseball fields where coaches are training their young teams. Moms sit, watch, or walk a few laps and then wait. Dads lean over the chain-linked fences offering advice to their sons. A few meander around talking on their cell phones probably wrapping up their workday.

I walk the track. It’s about 85 degrees and there is a small breeze. Thank God for the breeze. It’s humid and my skin feels like it’s been spritzed with warm water, but the breeze adds a layer of coolness.

I always walk counter clockwise. The track isn’t level and rises a bit on the East end just past the concessions stand. I start slow until I find my rhythm. I pass the football field on my left and then upward between four baseball fields. I round to the left and circle back toward the football field and do it again.

I’ve walked this track many times in the past three years. This is where I have walked out my prayers and my heartaches and my questions – one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. Tonight I came not to think or pray or question but to just walk – to take a break from all that.

It had rained earlier and the ground was still wet. You have to time your walks carefully so as not to get caught in the rain. The sky was clear and getting deeper blue with each lap. I see familiar walkers like the old woman with her son, a few women jogging, and stray kids playing who aren’t on any of the practicing teams.

I try not to ruminate, but a few thoughts come my way and that’s okay. I get some clarity and direction and that’s always good. I don’t know if I have goals, but I’m working on dreams and visions. I get insight into what the next few steps in my life should be. I guess that could be considered goals. I’m feeling more comfortable with the near future and letting the far future stay in the care of God’s loving hands.

With this lap I will have walked three miles. Not bad for not having music. It’s dark now and the stadium lights are not turned on at the back end of the track over the baseball fields. I need to change my route and take the one-third mile loop that circles only the football field to avoid walking in the dark. I wonder if there is a spiritual message here?

Only three more treks around this one-third loop and I will have made my goal of four miles. But it’s 7:45, how long will the lights stay on? Can I make it before the coaches are finished and turn the lights out? What if I get stuck in the dark on the opposite side away from the parking lot? Do I keep going and chance it? Of course I do. Then it happened. The lights went out. Thank you Jesus that I found that flash light app earlier. One step at a time, one foot in front of another.

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