What We Can't Afford Not to Do

It was a Thursday in May that demanded attention.

There was gray grass and naked trees, yes. But the day’s roaring brightness made promises; sprouting and growth were coming soon.

I had a long walk ahead of me and enough time for it. I slipped into a coat I would soon take off and headed out towards the water.

I passed a woman filling up a teal bird feeder and two broad-shouldered guys working on a deck and listening to the classic rock station.

As the sidewalk curved downward, the phone in my pocket knocked on my hip. It was filled with emails that needed responses.

I passed a blue Coleman cooler tilted over and drying in the backyard and a new clam shack that served, “HUGE PORTIONS.”

On my back, pre-sweat heat was building between my shirt and backpack. In the backpack, two bananas, hairspray, a computer that opened to my To Do list and the news of the day.

The road uncurled onto a broad straightaway. The trip would be another half hour, 40 minutes, I realized.

Can I afford to be on this long walk? I began to peck at the part of me that thought this was a good idea. I should be working. Plus, there’s so much awful, hurt, disrepair in the world. What kind of indulgence is this sun-kissed walk?

How quickly we belittle the part of us that craves joy.

I kept on walking, stewing on a messy situation with a colleague, how I should’ve handled a touchy email differently. And as the sun roared down, I became aware that I didn’t like me when I was stewing on work. I was tightly coiled, rigidly focused, unjoyful.

And I knew I couldn’t afford not to take this long walk. I needed it to show me that I could hold the blue Coleman cooler drying in the sun, the mess of a situation with a colleague, the world’s disrepair, the birds who would come to the teal feeder. I could hold it all at once, without one part nullifying another.

We are more spacious than we give ourselves credit for.

I stuck to my long walk. I needed it for the reminder that ours is a world that asks us to see all its truths, however contradictory they may be.

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