85: “How To Walk” (Thich Nhat Hanh)

                “The first thing to do is to lift your foot. Breathe in. Put your foot down in front of you, first your heel and then your toes. Breathe out. Feel your feet solid on the Earth. You have already arrived.”
                “When we first learned to walk, […] we walked and discovered each moment as we encountered it. We can learn to walk that way again.”
                -Thich Nhat Hanh,
How To Walk

                A few weeks ago, when we ran into each other on the way to the fridge (we were both going for hummus, I think, though we both would’ve been happy to find chocolate cake. Somehow my hummus never turns into chocolate cake), I asked my roommate, “Have a good day?” He paused for a long moment. He does that. It’s one of his endearing qualities, though I often wonder if I’ve said something stupid or annoyed him. And then he said, “I don’t know.”
                Since then I’ve been thinking: when did I decide to put my days into a hierarchy? When did I agree to put almost everything into a hierarchy? Do I really need to classify this as a good day, a bad day, an inbetween day? In completing these classifications, what am I hoping to do?
                I brought this up to my class a few days later. They were pretty suspicious at first. Being the even-keeled, always-on-point, super dispassionate person I am, I got defensive. We growled and hissed at each other for a little while, and then, somehow, we started thinking and talking together. One of my students said that a day “could be a day.” Other students picked up that idea: they walked with it, sat with it, shared it. Listened to it. What if a day was a day?
                The truth is, I like hummus. In its own way, I like it as much as chocolate cake. Or perhaps more precisely, liking or not liking it isn’t so very important to me. Hummus was there. It was real. Through a chain of chemical and biological wizardry that I’d like to study one day, it fed me. In eating, I felt the gentle rise of energy that once fell as gentle sunlight onto green leaves.
                The first thing to do is to lift your foot. Breathe in. Put your foot down in front of you, first your heel and then your toes. Breathe out. Feel your feet solid on the Earth. You have already arrived.

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