Earthworms’ Castings

By Jean Ponzi

Give Myself a W

The first one came on a Sunday in August 2020. Deep time pandemic, stuck in high anxiety. I felt like jumping out of my skin, but I jumped into my car.

I drove to a beautiful city park for emergency walking.

All I could manage was that fundamental motion: left foot, right foot, over and over. Making myself move forward, I could drag thought-focus from angst to breathing. Inhale, exhale, keep walking. One long breath for two, then four steps. Relief when motivation took over and I could walk and breathe, not forcing.

In the heat I took a zig-zag path through pools of shade. The park’s great trees filtered blazing light. I felt the air temperature rise and fall, 10 or more degrees between the sun-soaked and long leafy spaces.

It was vital being out of doors then. Nature was a refuge! You could cross a street to maintain “social distance” and still exchange a precious greeting with a random fellow being. Before M-RNA vaccines, Vitamin N was a free and beneficial supplement that escaped becoming politicized.

I carried my phone in a tiny bag, but I was walking not plugged in. Relief to leave off talking, or having to tune into stuff I might not be able to handle. I listened between the sun and shade, between still air and momentary, wispy summer breezes. That listening felt like healing.

Left, right. Motion, emotion. Inhale, exhale. The simple act of walking brought me back to center, unclogged my feelings, restored my capacity to know I could function.

Wow, I thought from that detached observer’s mind place, this is so simple.

Indeed. Amazing. Could this become a practice?

At home I took a wax pencil and marked the calendar with a big red W, circled.

Confession: that turning-point Sunday hasn’t become a daily big red reward. I’m a sedentary person, a lifetime lounger. I’m not one of those get-up-and-go girls, and the writing/talking nature of my work feeds body stagnation. I gotta intentionally move my butt. But many days, these three years on, I do.

Walking – some evenings simply up and down the hill of my block – is just the right recharge for me. Sometimes I go striding, often it’s a just a deliberate pace. I remind myself to stand up straight; posture is important too.

When I wake up at 2 am, brain gnawing some worry knot, I walk barefoot in our house. Four rooms are an oak loop with views out to all four directions. These times as my body moves, my mind goes into meditations learned thanks to time in viral confinement. Mental notes from a new friend, kindness.

Every calendar square with a W marks a personal resolve, a day of practicing how I choose to be. When I move with gentle purpose, no matter how stuck or overwhelming life may seem

Jean Ponzi’s long-serving Earthworms show invites you into Green-focused conversations, podcasting from KDHX St. Louis Independent Media. Pick ‘em up at www.kdhx.org.