Thanks for reminding me

Autumn can offer a trumpeting, or a nuanced suggestion, of the changes to come. Just off the Eel River, off Long Pond Road.

I’M WALKING HOME. TAKING A YEAR TO WALK ACROSS THE COUNTRY. BRINGING YOU WITH ME OR MEETING YOU ALONG THE WAY… Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about this walk but for now, for a while, there are other things on my mind. I’m pretty excited, for example, about the things I am still learning about my home town: the creatures, the flowers, the forest. There’s so much here, in Plymouth, it’s a wonder there is anything left over for the rest, the rest of the country, that place that I insist on calling ‘my backyard.’  In my front yard though, there is still work to do. And so I am, odd to say, distracted. My attention is not focused on my walk. My day is not taken up with planning. My life is, I hate to admit it, normal. Thank god for friends. Friends who remind me. I sat down to talk to some folks attending a meeting the other day and a woman who I see occasionally came up to me and – after asking my how my plans for the walk were going – began describing her vision of me on the walk in cosmic terms, as a sphere moving through the universe gathering particles from everything I brushed against, growing larger and brighter and… she was so excited about what I was planning on doing. I was so excited after talking with her. I wanted to say to those around me, ‘did you see that?’ It was difficult, after that encounter, to go back to my table and take notes. I wanted to run off and start walking. Two weeks later I was at a breakfast meeting with three of my favorite people in town, meeting to discuss a very serious issue and, one of those people suddenly interrupted the meeting to say, ‘Hey, what’s going on with the walk: I haven’t see any updates on your website for a while?’ I stammered a bit, offered a few excuses but, honestly, I was excited. Something is happening on its own, without me, I thought. People are excited about what I am going to do. People are anticipating my walk, as if they were planning to do it themselves and, in a real sense, they are. I am taking them, the whole town, with me. That’s the plan, and the plan is coming together on its own. It is so much like that 365th sunrise, when I simply said, ‘if you love this town, show up (in the snow, in the dark) and celebrate the year with me. And 500 did! Don’t be fooled. Just because I am still here, just because it is still 3 years away, I am in a real sense already walking. I am gathering speed or, at least, I am attempting to build enough momentum to be able to shed the chains of the everyday and… well, in a sense, I will be weightless on my walk. With no place to go, except home, and no daily schedule, save for getting an early start in the morning and a good night’s sleep at day’s end. Weightless. Moving at the speed of conversation. Now though, here still, my work requires me to speak rapidly, write even faster: process my experiences into journalistic biscuits. And to do so I can’t be weightless. And to do so I can’t move slowly. That’s an irony of sorts: I am trying to build sufficient momentum to allow myself to slow down. It is, I tell myself, happening. It may be hard to see, but as frenetic as my movements are, as hyperactive as I seem to be, I am slowly slowing down. The walk is beginning. No, I am already walking. Thanks for reminding me. Frank