Still raining. A bit peaky, still. Have another lockdown one sort-of-memoir chapter!
Day 9 – 9397 steps
I could hear the freeway humming as I stepped out my front door and it was clear that the funereal mood of the day before had been replaced by the usual steady traffic.
It was dark as I headed out of my driveway but the dark energy had lifted … or at least my own energy had lifted. I was glad to be walking in the early morning. There was nobody around and I was easily able to push any thoughts of being unsafe away.
It was a full 15 minutes before I saw another person, a familiar man jogging towards me in his usual running kit. We passed each other in the darkness of the park and I felt pleased that he was about, that I was not alone. Thirty seconds later a bike passed me to and as the darkness lifted more and more walkers, runners and cyclists began to fill the green space and pathways.
I was still listening to Anna’s book, my phone tucked into my bra. I’d bought a new cover for it yesterday and it not only fully enclosed the screen, it had lots of slots for cards as well. My credit card was tucked safely and snugly inside, eliminating the worries of losing it. I’d hidden my front door key in my garden too, so I was walking with just the bra phone and an asthma puffer, feeling delightfully unencumbered.
Perhaps I was getting better at this walking caper? I was covering my route at a faster pace, I was breathing more easily and today I was managing it without anxiety or sadness. It felt good to have some relief. I’d spent the day before feeling utterly exhausted and unsure if this tuckered out-ness was due to fitful sleep the night before or because of the bonkers amount of feelings I had been wrangling earlier that morning. I’d gone to bed early and slept like the proverbial log, waking up naturally at 5.30am and bolting out the door at 6 feeling so much better.
Anyone who has battled with their mood and emotions will know just how much lighter you can feel when not burdened with this extra emotional weight.
Yesterday it seemed like dark energy was swirling all around in the wake of the tragic freeway crash. Today it could not have been any more different.
As I walked my route I passed the swap hens, going about their business in the half light. I listened to Anna’s tales of walking through clouds and fog and bathing in icy rivers and I slipped into a sort of meditative state.
I snapped out of it when someone ahead on the path began waving at me. As I got closer and adjusted my eyes I realised it was my neighbour Jen, briskly walking the return leg of her own walk.
We stepped off the path onto the grass and I congratulated her on being on the way back home so early. I asked her if she felt safe an Jen told me that she’d walked through the streets to this end of the park. She had a torch and a personal alarm, she said.
I told her I’d walked through the dark the other way, through the park and we both agreed that you’d have to be unlucky to encounter trouble at this hour of the day and concluded that most women probably worry, but get out in the darkness anyway.
We parted ways and I trotted off, making my way to the grown up saplings, around the gravel loop and onto the path back toward home again.
Overhead colourful twittering birds swept past and I wondered what they were. Parrots? Rosellas? Lorikeets? I really should find out what the difference is, I thought.
The black dogs were bounding across the grassy paddock as I made my way to the road that led to the café, getting tangled up in one another and then bouncing into their laughing owners.
There was a chocolate dog in there too and in my dazed walking state I imagined what it would look like if everyone who suffered from depression had a cartoon dog that followed them about. The streets would be crowded with cartoon dogs, wouldn’t they? Cartoon dogs would sit in cars and on public transport too. It would be an even more dog-filled world, reminding us that depression was a difficult but common condition and that we are never alone in it.
I eventually stumbled into the café and breathily ordered my coffee as Justin Bieber’s Intentions played in the background. As I waited outside I queued up his new album on Spotify, wiped my now absolutely dripping brow and tried to defog my glasses.
I thought about my own good intentions, realising again that they were in line with those that Anna had outlined in her book. To make a difference. To show people that change was possible. To be vulnerable and open about how hard things could be.
As I walked home the long way I collected smiles from other walkers and juggled my almost too-hot coffee between my hands. I was going to do more than investigate noisy birds today, I decided. I was going to start investigating 10km walks further afield, because one day we’d be allowed to venture out of our own neighbourhoods again and I wanted to step up my wandering away from the constant hum of the freeway, step up my physical and mental health and maybe even find some of those Powerful Owls.
At home I drank my coffee in the backyard, watching the pups race around smelling flowers and the picking up the scents of night time creatures. Then I crawled back into bed with some crumpets and a cup of tea. My legs and back were aching and my face felt dry and hot. Maybe I was getting a cold? I had busted out several elbow sneezes on the way home.
I looked up the birds and found out more about their colourful feathers and how their colours and markings differentiated them.
Then I flicked the TV on and took in the news of the day. It was predictably and regrettably sad. More about the crash, more about the toll from COVID-19, and coverage of the driveway rituals planned for ANZAC Day the next morning. I had some candles tucked away somewhere and made a plan to light them before I headed out the next day.
Maybe I shouldn’t walk tomorrow at all, I suddenly thought. Perhaps I’d pick up on some of the sad Anzac day energy and overwhelm myself like I had the previous day?
I would go a bit later, I finally decided. I’d wait until the day was bright, the memorial candles were less visible and The Last Post – which musical types had been urged to play - had already rung out in the streets. I’d make a playlist to get me off to a chipper start and I’d hopefully be able to relax into the walk and clock up a Anzac Day 10k.
Maybe things would go differently to what I expected? I might see some new interesting people? Have a chance to test out my newfound bird watching knowledge?
Maybe I could bust out some of that creative thinking if things got tough? I’d keep a project idea in my back pocket and brainstorm some thoughts on it, like I’d done with the recipe thinking the previous day, I thought.
It felt satisfying to know that even if things did go a bit south emotionally, that I was learning some new ways to stave off the sadness and push on. Knowing this was the first step in avoiding overwhelm. I would twitter interesting ideas until I flicked the switch in my brain that had helped me lift my mood the day before. I would emerge from any potential sadness like a colourful bird, I told myself. That was the plan anyway.
The difference between those colourful birds:
Rainbow Lorikeets have green backs and sunset yellow and orange chests and tummies.
King Parrots are mostly red and green. Their head and chest are the same colour.
Rosellas are red and blue – sometimes with some green. They have different coloured markings on their faces.