Took a walk in the bright 5:00 p.m. sunshine, but the weather app on the phone says "33 degrees, feels like 25." My fingers are frozen, my nose is dripping, and the iPod is playing a jazz arrangement of "O Sacred Head" that is intensely sad.
It's an unsettled world, where what things look like, what they are like and what they feel like don't match up. I watch my kids try to define themselves in these uncertainties--one by asserting loudly that she is an adult now, the other by exploring philosophy and consciousness and his place in time and multiple dimensions of being. Somewhere between them you'll find me, trying to have some kind of a positive effect on them, trying to get through each day's necessary work, hoping to create a life where desire and doing come together happily.
So I walk. Because exercise is good for me. Because I've lost weight and walking will help to keep the weight off. Because usually the rhythmic pounding of my heels on the pavement smooths away the bumps in my brain and evens out the tense places in my heart.
The earth's tectonic plates have not shifted under my feet, as they did in Japan. I have not felt the waters of a tsunami rise swiftly around my ankles. There is no shooting in the street in my town, as in Libya, no humanitarian crisis. If I had to deal with stuff like that right in front of me, and not so very different from what it looks like, I might be a person who takes action.
But the things that drag me down, the things I could whine about--meetings to attend tomorrow morning, decisions about painting the house or investing in new windows--are much smaller. They are the problems of someone who is safe and secure in a warm home, with supper on the stove.
And yet, it's hard to know who you are, where you are, what you are, especially when cold winds make you feel trembly or rigid, when growing older leaves you feeling lonely, when you know you are not supposed to accept the wounded world as it is.
Or should you?