Every day, well, nearly every day, I walk down to my mailbox to retrieve the mail and the daily newspaper. I live in a semi-rural area, so the boxes are lined up roadside rather than connected to our homes. To get there, I have to walk down and back up a fairly steep hill that would qualify as a good ski run in snow country.
I could drive down and back, but the only time my conscience let me do that was when I sprained my ankle or when the rain was absolutely torrential. After a morning hike in the woods and a mid-day swim in the pool, an evening walk to the mailbox is hardly about exercise for me. Besides, it’s as treacherous to walk quickly downhill on pavement (think, knees) as it is to walk uphill (think, calves and lungs). I want to honor the rhythm and mechanics of my body.
So, I take my time and I head out in the cool and quiet of the early evening when the quail and bunnies come out to eat. It’s a time when the sun is low enough to cast long shadows on the roadway and cliffs and fog is creeping in over the hills to the west. It’s a beautiful time of day and a beautiful walk, if I take the time to notice.
The unexpected gift of walking this hill is that I’ve remembered how to dawdle.
Do you remember walking to school as a child? I guess it depends on your age and where you lived, but I remember walking to school. I remember avoiding cracks in the sidewalk so as not to break my mother’s back, except when I was mad at her for something.
I remember not being aware of the time, just following the usual route and somehow landing at the playground before the bell rang. Well, ok, there were days when I heard the bell ring in the distance and made a beeline for the classroom. Along the way, I got lost in the sights, sounds and smells of the early morning; bacon, birds chirping on the wires, parents driving off to work, black shiny beetles crossing the sidewalk. I danced, twirled and sang. I called “hello” to the cats sitting on porches.
Merriam-Webster defines dawdling as wasting time. I define dawdling (or, if you prefer, dilly-dallying) as an art, one I’ve forgotten and am consciously re-membering.
So, I’m dedicating the entries in Full Moon Path to the art of dawdling for the rest of this week and perhaps into the next. Who knows when or how many entries, because I am, after-all, dawdling. I suspect that dawdling is one of the portals to the Mystery.
Meanwhile, whether your mailbox is attached to the front of your house, at the end of the driveway or down the road, take the opportunity to dawdle the very next time you retrieve your mail. Take time to engage with a flower, a bird flitting about in the bushes, that smell of wood fire down the way, the sound of children playing. Watch the dragon you think you see in a cloud morph into a dog. Dance with your shadow.
Float your imagination, observation and memory until they intersect in sublime timelessness and surrender your busy-ness to a little dilly-dallying.
Let’s see what we can discover together about the fine art of dawdling. Are you game?
copyright(c) June 2009, Kathy Loh, all rights reserved