Sally in the Zen

Confessions of a Befuddled Zen Buddhist

Walk around the Neighborhood

For the first time this year, we went out for a walk around the neighborhood.

The sky was blue and clear, the sun bright and warm and everything just seemed to beckon us out for a stroll.  But because it’s still not yet Spring and still a bit of Winter, Zen Master, Zen Mum and I bundled up in thick sweats and jackets and padded outside for that breath of fresh young spring air.

Zen Master wrapped his blue scarf around his neck for extra measure.

“You should wear yours.”  He said to me as he watched me put my red scarf back on the closet hanger.  “It’s not that warm.”

“It’s supposed to be 60 degrees today.”  I said.

“Yeah.”  Zen Mum concurred.

“It’s easy catch-cold weather.”  Zen Master reminded us.  “Spring isn’t really here yet.”

“Should be okay.”  I said as we stepped outside.

So altogether, we set out on our walk.  This is very good, very exciting because this is the start of our family walking again, exercise that we definitely need after being so cooped up for the winter. 

As we turn the first corner at the end of our street, I hear Zen Mum already puffing.  Peeking over at her, I see her round face slightly flushed and pink.

She looked at me.  “I’m already sweating.”

“We just started.  How are you already sweating?”

But she was too busy concentrating on breathing that she didn’t answer me.

The wind had a cold bite to it and before long, I started shivering.  Although I was pretty well wrapped up in my winter jacket, I felt the cold wind going down my neck.  I’m used to having my scarf around my neck and this was the first time I walked out of the house without it.

But after that conversation about the scarf, I was debating with myself if I should get it.  I really didn’t want to eat crow and have Zen Master gloat and preen.

Should I get my scarf? 

Or should I man up and soldier on in the face of that cold wind?

Should I get my scarf and wrap my neck up and keep it warm?

Or should I just walk faster, get the blood moving and just leave Zen Master and Zen Mum in the dust of my power-walk?

By the time we reached the second corner of the block, I decided, “I’m going back and getting my scarf.”

“Well, I don’t have to get mine.”  Zen Master called out from behind us, as he was meandering along.  “I’m nice and warm.”

“I want mine.”  Zen Mum said.  “Can you go get mine too?”

So we trudged back to the house and got those damn scarves.

Setting back out again, we finally made it up to the end of the street, the same street from where we began our family walk, and we just stopped.

Zen Mum was soaked with sweat under her jacket hood and pink scarf.  Zen Master was flushed a bit pink.  I was perspiring and had to pull my hood up over my head.

We fought the wind and the wind won.

Exercise is over-rated.

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You had to be there

So during our daily 2-mile walking circuit today, on the final leg home, we stopped for a moment to give Zen Mum a break to catch her breath.  She was beyond perspiring.  She was completely soaking with sweat. 

Whipping out paper towels from her pockets, she began to wipe her face.  “Look at me!”  She said as she began to wipe the back of her neck.  “Even my neck is wet!”

“Wet-neck!”  Zen Master burst out.  “You’re a wet-neck!”

Wet-neck, get it?  Wet-neck?  Redneck?  Wet-neck?

Hello?  Is anybody out there?

Well, I thought it was funny.

Happy August!

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Today Zen Master, Zen Mum and I went for an early morning walk, trying to get in our 2-mile daily quota of exercise before the humidity and heat moved in.  Baltimore was projected to reach 94 degrees.

We usually do a circuit around our neighborhood.  Five minutes into the walk, Zen Mum begins to drag her feet and sweats beads.  Ten minutes into the walk, Zen Master takes off his white T-shirt, clad only in his dark gray shorts that stop at the top of his knees.  I’m remembering the one instruction that’s stuck in my brain from my Tai Chi instructor:  breathe in the flower (INHALE), blow out the candle (EXHALE).

In the time we made the 2-mile circuit:

  • We waved and smiled at neighbors and passersby.  We asked one neighbor how his wife was doing because recently she had foot surgery and hasn’t been seen since.  She’s fine.
  • A Raimondi florist delivery truck stopped by a townhouse to drop off a basket of beautiful flowers.  Hopefully they’re celebrating a happy occasion.
  •  We observed a dead locus lying on its back on the sidewalk.  Eww.
  •  I saw a car slow down to chuck a pair of used socks out the window before driving away.  What’s up with that?
  •  We passed a couple of cul-de-sacs hosting yard sales.
  •  I observed a rolly-polly on the sidewalk.  I don’t know the technical name for this centipede or caterpillar thing but I know that if you poked it, it would curl its body into a tight ball and roll away.

At our half-way mark, we saw a man on the street, approaching us from the opposite direction.  He was an older gentleman with short snowy white hair, wearing a white t-shirt and gray sweat pants.  On his feet were black roller blades, and he was striding toward us.  He was fluid in his movements, graceful in motion and steps.  We watched as he made the left turn at the stop sign, he passing us without so much as a sound from him or his roller blades.  The man glided in that turn, no movements wasted – he just flowed. 

Until he hit the slight incline in the middle of that street.  We watched as he crouched a bit and put more effort into the climb, showing grit and determination to get to the top.  It was either that or just topple over on the street or worse yet, slide backwards down the way he came.  Uh oh.

But he conquered that incline.  We watched as he reached the end of that street and glided out of sight without a backward glance.

That’s what I want to be when I grow up. 

Fluid.  Graceful.  Gritty.

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