I go out walking

July 5, 2010 at 10:56 PM 3 comments

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The common wisdom has us believing that a walk in the morning limbers up the body and clears the mind. After eyeing my body from several angles in the women’s dressing rooms at Talbot’s and Ann Taylor, I can report with good authority that I would require a walk so long that I would have to forego publishing Bookpod in any reasonable amount of time. As for the benefits to my mind — my daily constitutional is more apt to disturb the bugs in my head, not clear them out.

Whenever I go for a walk, my mind behaves like a cat that has squeezed through the front door mail slot to get out of the house. Once on the street, it noses around the mulch of ancient childhood memories and suddenly I am wondering if the rat in seventh grade who told me that my plaid jumper looked like a parachute is still alive. It uncovers a pile of embers still burning for the graduate school professor whose house is on one of my walking routes. Worst of all, it paws at the compost heap of disappointments that have helped build my character in so many ways that it’s a wonder I am not Mother Teresa by now.

Walking with another person helps put a leash on my errant mind, although something about an intimate forty-five-minute amble will loosen up the screws that normally keep my regrets bolted down and out of sight. When I walk with my sister, I am tempted to confess who I have been in love with and what I might do if the day ever comes when I don’t have to work.

I could listen to music, but I won’t

I cannot possibly be the only person who has to take a stick to a vagrant mind whose only job is to get its owner rankled before eight in the morning. Why else would the other walkers plug up their ears with iPods? I have considered doing the same. Music and talk are great at knocking out all the unnecessary noise in your head. The problem is they also kill the rustle of squirrels and birds rooting underneath the ground cover that trick me into thinking I am on a much more adventuresome hike. An iPod certainly would have muted the conversation of the two Korean women I overheard this week whose chatter was the best part of my morning:

“Anyay-oh! Kin-chay-oh!”


I’m making up this dialogue, of course, because I do not speak Korean. Despite my not understanding a word of the language, I was riveted by the laughter, throat clearings and sneezes that punctuated the animated conversation of these two thirtysomething friends:


“Meh! Chim-days-taya!”

“Ha ha ha ha ha ha!”

“Ha ha ha ha ha ha!”

“Kha-kha!” (Throat clearing)


“Ha ha ha ha ha ha!”

“Internet nis-ta-ya!”

“Ha ha ha ha ha ha!”


Unfortunately, I cannot count on my neighborhood to turn my walk into a little game like this one every day. And only a game, such as eavesdropping on two larky young women whose language I don’t know, can ever make walking alone interesting.

Where oh where art thou, Petruchio?

I actually came to this realization the night before at a performance of The Taming of the Shrew, one of three plays at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival this summer. Specifically, it came to me during Kate’s climactic speech to Petruchio (and to the audience) in which she declaims:

“Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,

Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,

And for thy maintenance commits his body

To painful labour both by sea and land,

To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,

Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;

And craves no other tribute at thy hands

But love, fair looks and true obedience…”

I can assume that most of the women in the audience quietly squirmed at what we would see as one of the theater’s most famous anti-feminist diatribes. Yet what makes this play exciting is the game we watch the men and women play — and play offstage too from now until Planet Earth gets sucked into the nearest Virgo cluster.

I do not think that Kate’s society made her a “shrew” in the same way that American culture has made most of us women “shrews” — that is, creatures whose educational and vocational opportunities have convinced us that neither sex is superior to the other (We have learned that each sex is bizarre in its own way). The game (AKA “the battle of the sexes”) is innate in all of us.¬†Could Petruchio have changed Kate’s nature without her consent? And what about his nature? When Petruchio says, “Kiss me, Kate,” he is not the same boor he was at the beginning of the play when he announces that he comes “haply to wive and thrive as best I may.” Kate changed him because he was waiting for the change.

Each has subdued the beast in the other.

So, back to walking around my neighborhood alone every morning. It isn’t very interesting unless somebody is around to challenge the perennial churn of self-pity and self-aggrandizement that runs on a loop in my head. A couple of frolicsome hausfraus will do the job, but better still would be a Petruchio to make the whole long ramble worthwhile for his Kate.


I go out walking after midnight (Patsy Cline on YouTube)

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Entry filed under: Bookpod, Environment, Friendship, Love, New York City. Tags: , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Max  |  July 6, 2010 at 12:59 AM

    Too bad they weren’t Chinese. Otherwise you’d be in luck (sort of).

  • 2. Pesha  |  July 6, 2010 at 10:34 AM

    My sometime walking partner Esther said to me on Monday morning, “If you have a problem, just come and walk around Votee Park. When you go home, I guarantee you’ll just leave your problem in the park.” The walk might not tame the shrew, but given a chance, it can tame whatever your mind has rustled up that morning.

    • 3. modestine  |  July 6, 2010 at 10:59 AM

      Another example of how the common wisdom seems to work for most people!


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