Friday, June 10, 2011

At Loose Ends new walking partner
Habit is a cable; we weave a thread each day, and at last we cannot break it.  ~Horace Mann

A few days ago, my big Newfoundland mix was injured. Obviously, I adore my dog. He's my massive, cuddly Teddy bear. He's my conscience, my best friend and my favorite companion all rolled into a 110 pound package. Murphy is the court jester in our house. He's also the Spirit of Empathy. His torn meniscus may require surgery. His spirit remains positive and filled with joy. But, he simply can't walk around the house easily, let alone on our usual daily treks. It's painful to watch him try to get around. I love him so much that I hate his being in pain.

I also realized, however, that I haven't taken a walk without a child (or two) or a dog (or two) in 19 years. This may sound silly to many people. I am certain the idea of an unencumbered walk would be the ideal heaven to most. I'm perfectly capable of walking around foreign cities and going exploring. I like nothing better than seeing if I can get myself good and lost in new places to try to allow serendipity to bring amazing new spots into my life. I am a believer in kismet and fate beckoning me forward to previously unknown adventures. These chance encounters (with new museums, new restaurants and all new streets) aside, my daily walk is something completely different. I simply don't like to walk alone for exercise or to let off steam.

I am absolutely content in my own company. I'm one of those women who, like a hopefully  less suicidal, Virgina Woolf, would love to have a "Room of one's own". Walking alone, however, has left me at complete loose ends. I have no idea what to do with myself. I have walked with company for so many years that I truly enjoy it. When the children were little, I used to push them in the double jogging stroller every day...with them bundled up like beautiful cherubs against any cold weather. As they grew up a bit, we'd stop and look at interesting things...the ducks in the park in Summer, the changing leaves in Fall or the very first Snowdrops in Spring. When the kids outgrew our daily strolls, I began walking the dogs alone. Although the pups didn't chatter away like my children did, they nevertheless provided me with company, fun and a bit of a sense of mischief.

Murphy's injury has taught me a truth about myself: I don't like to walk alone. I'm not afraid. I'm simply too bored with my own thoughts. I found myself dragging along, not even wanting to go. It's much easier to be lazy without a dog to walk! After a couple of days, my neighbor took pity on me, after seeing me walk brokenhearted. She has two lovely Golden Retrievers, who have often played with Murphy. Her younger dog, Emma, needs longer walks that my neighbor can manage right now. Emma was so happy to be my walking buddy! It was also fun watching Emma encounter my usual route for the first time. Seeing the paths through her eyes gave me a whole new incentive to continue to show her other new spots we can walk together.

I will still miss walking Murphy. But, I'm glad that Kismet provided a temporary partner for me. I am never comfortable at loose ends with myself. And since my walks are a vital part of my healing from cancer, I'm glad that Emma's along for the journey.