Saturday, December 28, 2019

A hot, smokey start to summer

Given the number and extent of the bushfires it's no surprise that I'm still in Sydney. No plans to leave for the immediate future. The weather has been hotter and drying than normal. The fires have started earlier, are more numerous and burnt more than ever before. I'll stay in the city for the moment until the situation improves.

I'm feeling more confident on my feet lately. I've been walking a minimium of 12km daily, with some days of 24km. Smoke and heat have limited the larger days. The amount of time it takes has also been a factor. The Keen sandals have been working well, but I miss the open toes of real sandals. So, I've started wearing a pair of Merrell Mojave Sport sandals a couple of days ago. My kind of sandal - no toe box, so the toes wiggle free. Early days yet on them. I've have also patched the Vibrams - so still wearing them sometimes, depending on where or what I'll be walking on.

Besides the shoes, I've been looking at how my body moves. I had thought I knew how to walk. Like, how hard is it? We all get it worked out by about 15 months. I started watching how I walk and reading about gait. I realised how little I knew. It's terribly complicated all the bits that work together for locomation. Where are the feet are pointing, which bit hits the ground first, how hard, are you upright, or hunched forward, pushing off with the rear foot, and on and on.

And then when I started trying to monitor my own walking - what is that foot doing, I was reminded of this quote from Alan Watts, The Way of Zen:

"The centipede was happy, quite,
Until a toad in fun Said,
"Pray, which leg goes after which?"
This worked his mind to such a pitch,
He lay distracted in a ditch,
Considering how to run."

I feel like the centipede. Watching how I walked or trying to change my gait, at times it feels like I can't walk. It is all too much to direct. I feel like a broken puppet and I can't walk unless I direct every action. At times I do end up stopped and need to forget about it for a while. With practice I'm getting better. Less broken feeling and more 'gliding along' times. It's a slow process. In the begining any change feel really weird, and require a huge amount of attention. This also triggers centipede freeze up.

Changes are slow. It takes time paying attention to have the change stick. It is so easy to drift back to the old way. It also takes times for muscles and tendons to adapt to some of the changes. Things hurt, ache or feel tired really fast. I have to pace the effort. A little bit each day, slowly increasing the length of time. Then one day, I notice that the change has stuck and it doesn't feel weird anymore.

I'm still working on it.

This has a bit of a guide about walking technique.