The Focus of Ice Walkers

Early one icy morning, I went out walking. 

It was before the plowers, the sanders, the scrapers came out. And the sidewalks were frozen slick and thick. 

Like most of us, I don't like walking on ice. The hesitancy of each and every step. How precarious even the gentlest incline from driveway to street is. That surge of adrenaline across the chest when you almost slip. All that to go at half the speed you'd normally go. 

But I've come to appreciate one thing about it. When you're walking on ice, that is the only thing you can focus on. 

This icy morning, I wasn't worrying over yesterday's problems. I wasn't planning out today's agenda. I wasn't even thinking about the stretch of sidewalk up ahead.

My whole focus was given over to figuring out where to place my right foot, where to place my left foot. Right foot, left foot.

It's the meditation I didn't ask for. And it commands an uncommon level of thought and care. 

When I got inside, my feet sunk into deep, soft carpet. My focus and my mind went here, there, everywhere. 

But at some pause during my day, I thought to myself: when I'm working on a thick problem, may I give it the same thoughtful, caring focus I give when I'm walking on ice. 

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Caitie Whelan