I'm a firm believer in trying to maintain balance in my life and, as a believer, when my life is out of balance I definitely feel the effects. Most of the time I can push away the frustrated feelings that rise out this but they never go away for long. They fester under the surface, eroding away my sense of well-being and equilibrium. We've been so busy adjusting our family to back-to-school and back-to-work schedules that I haven't exercised in weeks. I normally go for a long walk every Sunday with a neighbor-friend but lately her schedule, and my schedule have been too packed and too crazy to fit our walks in. The stars weren't aligned right yet again this weekend and on Saturday it became clear that we wouldn't be able to keep our walking date.
And so Scott scheduled a tennis match for 4:30 on Sunday, during what would have been our walk time.
For some reason this made me mad at him, although it wasn't clear to me why. "How come YOU always get to fit your exercise in?" I grouched at him. "What about me?"
"You can still go," he said. "You have all of Sunday morning, and early afternoon, too. I'll be home with the kids."
"But B. can't walk!" I said.
"Why can't you go by yourself?" he said, reasonably.
I was about to come up with a whiny rejoinder when I stopped, and all feelings of anger and injustice vanished. This was the best idea I'd heard in a long time. Why couldn't I go by myself? Sometimes it's so easy to get locked into rigid thinking, to feel boxed in by walls you create for yourself--especially when you're so busy being a mother that you forget how to put yourself first. So on Sunday after breakfast I put on my exercise clothes, cued up a playlist on my iPod and headed out the front door. I left Scott with the kids in the backyard, armed with bags and gloves for some creek clean-up.
I walked from our house to the greenway, and passed the neighborhood pool on the way. The water almost glowed an eerie lime green, and the deck was empty; a few leaves were piled up here and there, and in one corner where not long ago T. had sat on a spread out towel, and shared a snack with friends. It doesn't take long for a place to seem so abandoned--for summer to seem like a mirage, almost.
I walked the length of the first half of the greenway trail, until I reached the bridge covering "Catfish Creek"--a name my friend B. and our kids gave that part of the creek. In the summer, when the water was low and still, we could stop and see a half dozen or more catfish weaving along the muddy creek bottom. Some summer evenings we'd take our kids there and drop tiny balls of stale bread into the water. Yesterday, though, the creek was swollen from all the rain, and the water moved quickly under the bridge. There was no sign of the catfish anywhere. I wondered what they did with themselves when summer ended--did they move on to warmer waters? Would they be back next year?
On my way back I walked quickly, and by the time I got home my legs ached. I felt the distance I had traveled, down to my bones, and I felt the change of the seasons, too, more keenly than I have so far. I also felt content and at peace inside, in that way you get when you've done something good for yourself--something to make you whole again.
And I thanked myself, and my husband, too.