Thursday, September 3, 2009

The walk of life

Okay, things are starting to get serious. At least in my mind.

You might not think that waiting for the start of the walk would entail anything more than, well, waiting. That and relaxing. Instead, each morning I awake with my heart pounding and my stomach in knots. This thing has me nervous, and for me nervousness translates into various physical symptoms, in this case palpitations and visceral discomfort. Either that or I'm about to have a heart attack and I have some rare form of semi-dysentery. I have it narrowed down to those possibilities.

About a month ago I started getting a pain on the outside of my right ankle--sort of a tendinitis. Immediately the whole walk went up in flames in my mind. I worried about the pain for a few weeks, and finally it began to subside, leaving as mysteriously as it came. More and more as time goes by these minor complaints seem to appear out of nowhere, stay for a couple of weeks, and leave. I used to be able to figure out what had happened to cause them, but in recent years they obey their own logic and don't seem to have much relationship to anything. This, I figure, is how death sneaks up on us. We get used to having little aches and pains that come for no apparent reason, and we get used to seeing them go, so we start ignoring them. Then one of them turns out to be something really serious, but still we ignore it, like they ignored the boy who cried wolf, and BAM, the reaper strikes.

Holy shit, you say. What brought all that on? Get a grip. Don't start going all Woody Allen on us.

Okay. I'm breathing deeply and slowly. Here's the thing, though. Remember how I said I wasn't doing this for any particular cause? Well, maybe I do have a cause, and had one all along. It was to prove to myself I could do it. Also, and no less importantly, there's what my doing this might mean to some of the rest of you. Sometimes, when I'm telling someone about the walk, they get this smile and a far-off look in their eyes, a look that says, Man, I sure would like to chuck this rat race I'm in the middle of, this pain-in-the-ass job, this pursuit of money and security, and just get out on the open road like you're going to do. Yeah, I see that look. So I guess I'm taking on a little of your dream, too, along with fulfilling my own. Of course, there are just as many of you who have a different look, the one that says, Is this guy as crazy as he sounds right now? He's obviously got more time on his hands than he should have.

In the end, the idea of walking a long distance should not be freaking me out. Walking is what we humans were meant to do, and it was only starting in the 20th century that many of us in the west stopped doing a hell of a lot of it. Furthermore, walking in comfort--that is, with well-designed shoes and other amenities that I'll have, is a luxury of quite recent vintage. A hundred and fifty years ago, when Sherman's army was on the march, soldiers walked ten or twenty miles a day with heavy packs on their backs into battle, wearing, if they were lucky, boots that fit. Need new boots? Shoot a rebel about your size. Socks? Forget about it. Then there was Napoleon's army's retreat from Russia, wearing rags on their feet, eating raw frozen horse flesh, or maybe even boiling their boots for food. (That's making me hungry for a cold cut sandwich. Be right back.)

When all is said and done, I'm not about to undertake the twelve labors of Hercules here. It's just a walk. People walk all the time. It's supposed to be good for you. It is good for you. So relax.


Billie Bob said...

Alright, I finally figured out how to log into this bloody thing...and I'm not talking about your feet, fancy foot wear notwithstanding and no pun intended. So anyway, I wouldn’t give too much of a thought to your psychosomatic stuff…things will get real soon enough. Here is what I suggest: do it bare foot. Be a man! Pay homage to all those unfortunates that came before you: Sherman the dog, army ants, Napoleon Solo, Shoeless Joe Jackson. ..
OK, then. Week one will get you to about Alma. Your feet may be shredded, but I am sure that the victory in Ann Arbor will heal the initial wounds. After that, no sweat.

Peter Teeuwissen said...

Excellent suggestion. Alma's the wrong way, though. I'd have to go over the north pole to get to New Orleans. Hey, there's a thought. Maybe next time. And I thought Mr. Peabody was the dog. And while you're setting the wayback machine, let's not forget the Blackfoot Indians, who, on their trail of tears, had to walk on hot asphalt all the way to Oral Roberts's tower of prayer in Tulsa. So things could always be worse.

Billie Bob said...

I stand corrected. Da huh...I forgot you are departing from the Grand side of the state, not Farwell where I last saw you. And again, wrong! Indeed, Mr. Peabody was the bare pawed dog. Is it my age? Was it the wine? Or am I just surrendering to the dumbing down of America? None of the above! I was just testing you (yeah, that’s it). I now feel more comfortable that you have your wits about you as you embark on your journey…

rmbikes said...

So the first step is tomorrow morning? Just a couple of questions that have sprung to mind. It seems to me one of the possible difficult things is everyday finding a secure place to leave the motorhome(which needs a name by the way--and Further is taken), and likewise for the bike. Important for us followers is consistent blogging which likely means finding Wifi or similar nearly every day. These are things I have been pondering so I imagine you have been as well.

papateeu said...

The first step is indeed tomorrow, but it will probably be early afternoon by the time I take it, which is fine, because it'll only be a 10 miler. I've thought about places to park the motor home, both when I'm out walking and at night when I'm in it. More will be revealed as the blogging continues. The bicycle I will lock up with a bike chain somewhere and hope for the best, and at night it can stay in the motor home with me or I'll pop off the front wheel and put it in the back seat of the car. It's an inconspicuous-looking thing, and I have far less money in it total than most of the helmets and seats cost at those bike shops you serious bikers frequent, so if the worst happens, I buy a new one and shed no tears. The motor home's name is the Wagon Queen Family Truckster. No name yet for the bike. I have a Sprint card for the laptop, so I should rarely be out of Internet range.