walk soft

I have been learning to walk softly on the earth.

First, I stopped stomping around the temple, striking my heels on the engawa. Then, I started to grow tall—tilting my pelvis like a bowl being returned to its base, lifting my sternum so slightly and tucking my chin so the crown of my head inches slowly higher each day. Yesterday, I got new slippers.

Slippers. They call flip flops slippers in Hawaii. And they hold all the secrets of who I am: my habits, like my heavy heel strikes, my pronating and high arches, and all the places I’ve been. The little rips from pebbles and glass are evidence of my wandering, trapped in my soles.

I had really liked my old slippers. They were squishy, with two sets of straps that criss-crossed across the top of my feet. I remember the day I bought them in San Francisco, relieved that my feet could finally breathe.

At first, I held on to the old slippers as I asked the cashier to cut the tags off the new ones so I could change right there. But the old slippers smelled. They were such ripe evidence of me and what I wanted to leave behind, the old me that I’ve impatiently outgrown for the little and big harms to myself and to you. I went to the bathroom carrying them in my hand and, on the way out, I dropped them in the waste bin. I walked out a little proud: attached to the shedding of this one small attachment.

I am learning to walk softly on the earth.

I am looking up more, chin lifted and eyes on the horizon. Heart and senses more open, more often. I am standing taller, wanting to fully possess who I am—the person that others see and takes up more space than I’ve only snatched at before. I have spent years collapsing my tail, arching down low so my heart pulls back and jutting my chin in that way that is familiar to those of us who work at computers all day.

That collapse and retreat are a literal pulling back. It is a way to guard my heart because it feels so exposed and tender. Even the thought of that exposure is enough to make my heart quiver, my guts go limp and the edges of what I can see darken.

But even with my heart retreating, I’ve still been stomping around the world and striding (though crookedly) through our lives—yours and mine.

I must be getting used to standing up tall. Even a moment of letting my posture collapse in that old way makes me feel like I can’t breathe. Trapped in a reality I don’t like, which is queasy and familiar—but unfamiliar enough right now to notice and make a different choice.

I am learning to walk softly on the earth.

Leave a Comment

Required fields are marked *.