Thursday, October 29, 2015

When I'm out in the street, I walk the way I wanna walk

I was reading a book in which the protagonist found self-awareness (and self-forgiveness and really, his ultimate self) through, among other things, focusing every day on six core needs:  physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and sexual.

And while the demons he needed to slay are much more intense than mine - he had a seriously fucked up childhood and spent chunks of his life engaging in incredibly soul-crushing, destructive behaviors - his path resonated with me.  Do I attend to these needs?

For me, some of them are interconnected.

I get plenty of exercise, plus many of my hobbies and favorite pursuits are physical - skiing, hiking, running around outside with the kids, surfing when I'm at the beach.

And except for my solo workouts at 5:30 in the morning, those physical pursuits are social.  Sometimes I ski alone, but my best ski days are often with friends or family.  I do big hikes with my friend Christin.   Plus I have a solid group of friends that I love and make an effort to spend time with.

My job is fairly intellectual, plus I'm always in the middle of a book, so I think I'm OK there.

Emotionally, I'm always working on letting myself feel what I'm feeling without letting it overwhelm me, and lately I feel like I've gotten better at it.  There have been some things in my life that have been major stressors lately, but attending to other core needs (doing a hard workout when I'm feeling overly anxious, hanging with friends who make me happy, that sort of thing) have helped me work through them.  This one will always be a work in progress, but I feel like I'm making a solid effort.

Sexually... well.  We'll see.

The one that really got me thinking was the spiritual need.  Though there are definitely lessons and principles in Judaism that I appreciate and internalize, I'm not really religious at all.  And I sometimes wonder what it even means to be "spiritual" - according to, it relates to or affects the human spirit or soul, rather than the physical or material.  Which can still be confusing and amorphous.  But I've also seen other explanations that emphasize a search for inner peace with yourself and your place in the world, and achieving love and respect for yourself and really, love and respect for everybody.

Those are certainly not things that I have understood or even worked towards during many parts of my life.  But being in an unhappy, unfulfilling relationship for years, going through a divorce, experiencing the death of a beloved child, figuring out how to function in the face of all that - it's forced me to approach life in a more focused way, and to do everything I can to shed old baggage and seek peace and beauty and love in the here and now.

And walking has been a huge part of that.

It's been a year since I started walking to work, as a part of healing after Emma died, and really, as a part of a daily meditation of sorts. As a daily act of spirituality, I guess.

At first, there were so many different routes - different streets on which to head north, different streets to head west, that it was all new and exciting.  I could take 12th Avenue, through Cheesman Park and through a largely residential area, with lots of interesting old houses and funky apartment buildings with charming names like the Rob Roy or the BluEtte or the Malden Arms.  I can admire people's flower gardens and look at pretty trees.

I could take 13th or 14th Avenues, both of which are slightly more commercial than 12th, with cool coffee shops and urban schools and mechanic's garages.  I can cut north past St. John's Cathedral, which is beautiful.

But after doing it for a year, I find myself gravitating to Colfax Avenue more and more.  Colfax is a little bit rough and dirty and gritty.  It's got liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries and bakeries and homeless shelters and bodegas and art galleries and dive bars and not-so-dive bars and pubs.  Thrift stores and head shops.  Tattoo parlors and natural grocery stores and a cathedral.  The state capitol building with its magnificent gold dome and used book stores and music venues.  People going to work and people who are a little bit out there.

A photo posted by Wendy Jacobs (@wendyalisonjacobs) on

Given the choice between hanging out on Colfax and hanging out in a place like Cherry Creek, with it's chi-chi boutiques and plastic people, I'll take Colfax every time.  Maybe it's the same reason I love big, noisy, chaotic cities like New Delhi or Bangkok - to me, it represents life and humanity, in all of its forms.  It's interesting and real.

And walking it every day, it gives me a sense of connection to the world, a sense of calmness and peace  - ironically, for all of its craziness, it fills me with love.


  1. Oh, yes. This resonates with me. I'm glad it's been healing for you. I used to love my walk to and from work. It was a good buffer between getting the kids out the door and starting my work day. It was time in my head to process. I love walking in cities. And definitely agree that the gritty streets are more interesting.

    1. There's a route that I've taken a couple of times that is all leafy trees and nice streets and apartment buildings, and it's so. fucking. boring.