(listening time: 3:53 minutes)
By the time Asha and I return to the car, I’m close to tears.
Summer has barely started and I’m ready for fall.
On the short drive home with the air-conditioning blasting, I wonder where it’s cold in July and August. I rule out New Zealand because I won’t put Asha on such a long flight not to mention quarantine regulations. Prince Edward Island feels like a possibility. We can drive there and I’d love to see what Asha makes of the ocean.
It’s a humid day and I’ve spent our walk waving my arms to keep the mosquitos, blackflies, deerflies and gnats away with some success, but their buzzing, whining, whirring have chipped away at my spirit.
I can’t not hear these sounds. Like a dripping faucet or the nervous clicking of a pen, they draw my attention and render me unable to focus on anything else. I barely hear the frogs, the chipmunks, the birds, the wind or even Asha splashing through a stream.
After many minutes of arm waving and one too many bugs flying into my ears, eyes and hair, my irritation rises. Each buzz, whine, whir turns into a critical message. I chastise myself for struggling so with the bugs. I berate myself for wilting in the humidity and not loving summer with the longer days and warmer temperatures. From there it moves on to a long list of things I should be doing and haven’t. Each negative statement feeds the next one.
I have nothing positive to say about myself.
Later, sipping cold water at home, I realize that I didn’t stop on the uphill stretch of the trail where I always stop at least onceto catch my breath.
Without me noticing, over the past few months of walking up and down hills, I’ve developed some strength and stamina. I’m in better shape.
As this realization sinks in, I feel a glimmer of hope.
Getting in shape wasn’t a goal, a conscious thing. It just happened. One walk at a time.
I was so fixated on – and annoyed by – the bugs and humidity that I missed this small positive. That slope is reason to celebrate and gives me hope that while I might not befriend the bugs, I can find a way to make peace with them. And quiet the negative thoughts.
Maybe with some focused attention, I can accept this body of mine that wilts in summer humidity. Maybe I can accept my struggle with the bugs and humidity without it making me a bad person. Without turning it into a character defect. After all no one is forcing me to walk in the woods. It is my choice.
Last summer, Asha and I mainly walked on our road because it felt less buggy than the woods. Plus our road is relatively flat, so the walking is less strenuous and therefore more comfortable on humid days.
But this summer, I want to walk in the woods and that means facing the bugs.
So I will.
One walk at a time.