Late night walking thoughts…
We do a lot of walking these days. We walk when we are restless, we walk when we are feeling boxed in, we walk when we are bored. We walk when we don’t know what else to do. I love to walk, the way I have always loved to run. For me, there is no state of mind that isn’t improved by putting my shoes on and getting out the door.
So I convinced a reluctant person in my house to take a night walk with me, after a particularly difficult mother / daughter conversation in which we were both wrong and both right and therefore I was all wrong. I made all of the mistakes tonight and I needed the walk as much as the daughter did, well more, probably. Because I realized halfway through the walk that this thing that helps me sort my feelings and find my internal rhythm again was doing absolutely nothing for her.
We walked and wound our way through the blocks with big picture windows and sparkly lights, houses where you imagine everything is light and bright and people are all listening to interesting music and reading great books and cooking from their grandmother’s recipes and nobody is sad or hopeless or feeling trapped. I know that perception is not true because our house looks much the same if you walk by at night and I happen to have it on very good authority that it’s not all light and bright and beautiful in that house. At least not all the time.
I thought about all the things I wish I could just transmit to my kids. The lessons I learned in what felt like the hardest ways imaginable at the time: that there is nothing, literally nothing that you cannot walk through in this life. That a hundred regrets or missteps can be put behind you by simply starting to do the next right thing. That what feels like it is breaking you at one age is what you may look back on as something that made you. That we are all made of something stronger than we can conceive of when we are at our lowest. And that life always, always has something more in store for us than we can imagine.
Richard Bode says in his book “First You Have to Row a Little Boat”:
“If the condition of fatherhood has taught me one thing, it is the difficulty, if not utter impossibility, of passing on to my offspring the lessons of my separate life. I found out, almost after it was too late, that my children weren’t born to learn from my experiences; they were born to learn from their own, and any attempt on my part to substitute my perceptions for theirs was doomed to fail.”
Knowing this is true never stops me from wishing it wasn’t.