I sauntered for an hour and a half on the beach this morning, down to the cluster of tires, nearly 4’ high, that had been unearthed by the shifting sands of Lake Michigan. I once ran this section of beach, three miles from my in-laws, to the power plant and back. I thought I had to run to stay on an even keel–only to find that I often would end up tipping the other way, becoming hyper focused on running, feeling that when I did not run I was failing. But today I am flabbergasted, and feeling exceptionally good, at the discovery that just walking with no real goal can accomplish the same thing as running. There is also the added bonus of being able to bring my coffee and stop and write or just sit if I am moved to do so. A quote from Ranger Randy Morgenson comes to mind; When you half your pace you double your fun.
I often whistle, but lately I have been humming because my therapist told me it would be calming, something that makes sense since we hum to our children. I love music but whistling and humming are the pinnacle of my musical ability. I have the rhythm of a cod fish, and that is insulting to the cod fish. Regardless, I am feeling so good this morning that I decided to put a little pep in my step. It is more of a stiff bodied herky-jerky two-step shuffle, but it has this amazing effect of unshackling joy I did not know I had and allowing it to bubble to the surface. A huge smile spreads across my face. Even writing about it months later propels the joy back up.
A little farther on I’ve added singing a nonsensical song to go along with my bopping around like a drunken prizefighter. To my surprise I pass a young woman sitting in the dune grass reading. I abruptly stop my singing and two-stepping and say hello. She glances at me with a shocked and puzzled look and then quickly goes back to her book. Right away I begin chiding myself for acting the fool. Singing ridiculous songs while walking along the beach, you really need to act more appropriately. This went on for several minutes before I was able to stop myself with the perfectly logical thought of. Who cares what some random stranger thinks? Besides, all that goofy singing and dancing made me feel incredibly happy. More importantly who makes the rules on how one should act while walking along the beach? I didn’t know it then but this seemingly benign interaction was a small step in the larger part of my healing and taking back the lead of the tango I have with depression.
I don’t need to be on vacation or walking on a beach to put a pep in my step. In fact, I got up and did a little jig while writing this. This world could benefit from halving its speed and putting a bit of pep in its step. The next time you’re waiting in line at the pharmacy or grocery store, do a little shuffle. When you do you’ll not only unshackle your joy but also the joy of those around you.