Feb 1, 2022 • 7M

The splendor of walking

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Appears in this episode

Mari Amman
A reserve for understanding.
Episode details
Hollywood Hills on film, photographed 2016 by Rachel Wolfe

Being, the act of doing nothing, is horrifying. Thankfully there is walking. Walking is a splendid act of faith. The bare practice of walking illuminates the visceral tones of action and movement-the basis of the unknowable, which is experienced through being in a body. Placing a foot on a surface presumably stable enough to launch forward from, to transfer the privilege of the support of the body from one side to the other, in a continual back and forth act, walking becomes a simultaneous free-fall, moving through a multi-dimensional space.

Walking goes hand in hand with faith as serving among commonly misunderstood pursuits a human can partake in. The acts which serve basic functions for human beings are often taken for granted, or taken to serve a fashion or fad, which are ceaselessly unreliable, shifting as rampantly as thoughts or emotions. But there is a lasting quality imminent to walking that I seek.

Middle-aged men walking miniature dogs, smoking cheap cigarettes and wearing flip flops. An abandoned cereal bowl I dare not peer into sits perched atop a ledge next to a dollar store book. Sprinklers spitting vapors that smell of chlorine, form meandering estuaries on the pavement. Groups of teenagers litter the darkened corners of parking lots, pining for the liberation from simplistic acts of rebelliousness. The fragrant stench of what one hopes is an animal outpouring and not the remnants of a drunken act. Sticky lines of thread from the hind sides of spiders I talk myself into believing to be far from the scene of my entanglement. These encounters are the dancing stimulus of walking through any given evening on the Westside of Los Angeles. The apartment buildings and light fixtures are reminiscent of the copies of copies of architecture in Las Vegas. The prized symbols of achievement in Los Angeles confoundingly rest parked beneath the shabby architecture, done up by signs of dignity or class, awaiting a disaster should the next big one hit the Richter, perhaps the metal bodies would provide additional cushioning. The aura of cheap parfum masquerading in designer labels and plastic topped bottles makes the solar plexus feel woozy. The oppressive realization not a single soul cares where I am or what I am doing settles into my bones. This outward-to-in experience robs me of the splendid act of walking in an all-too-easily-overlooked faith that must be reclaimed to enact a subtle body of force exerting upon the world.

The first step to navigating this subtle space filled with immense power begins with the choice of walking at night. I move my body when I want to move, and the privilege of having that choice is something I enthusiastically drink in on these night walks. Indulging in the proof I have granted myself a most desirable existence to partake in, walking is a grounding reminder of the faith I must put into the unknown, so all I love and desire to create in life may come forth from the force I have full responsibility for, and appear on the path.

Society favors the night to disempower the body from action in the world, as if the night brought out more hazards than the day. You see, it is the day that is plump with tasteless grizzle, the masquerade appears more convincing, the tantalizing sensations more distracting, and so it is taking this first step into the darkness that is a crucial effort in maintaining an honest practice as a person and artist. Society can act like a quicksand beach, made from transporting material from another area, to give the appearance that what looks like is there, was always or will continue to be. Another favorite activity society likes to partake in is the myth the night is where inspiration strikes. Inspiration is an entity readily available in every aspect of life, material or temporal, and can be used to create whatever it is we decide worthy of making. I ascribe the conditions in the world of warfare, among discourses of economy, race, religion, governments, or any other form of difference as evidence to an insistence human beings are not yet willing to embrace the enormity of the gifts life has to offer us. And so I practice seeking a way to allowing more of the splendor of life into my experience.

Continually, I return to walking alone, in the night. The darkness or solitude is not what is essential to gaining access to the richer aspects of a walking experience, but simply that sharing in walking with another brings with it an completely different dynamic of existence, one of acceptance requiring one be securely situated within the force of Love. A companion in the night, is a high achievement to behold in this life. But a companion is not someone who fulfills a fantasy or plays a role in a dream as a companion. These conflations are easy to make, but with effort in reaching toward the richness of the act of walking, one may grow sturdy enough to allow another way of being to inhabit the most intimate spaces, those of which are most essential to the basics of living in a body. The simplicity is so gigantically confronting, the energy impulses radically dynamic, the experience can easily be horrifying and grotesque, and so the other is pushed away. The pushing can become a mindless shuffle to and from one purposed companionship to another, never gaining the real experience, because in shuffling from one to one, it is really a being alone with intermittent distractions from the abyss of splendor available in engaging fully with the simple acts of living. This makes walking a fantastic practice toward developing the tenacity to encompass the qualities essential to expanding the space within the self, to experience the splendor of the unknowable qualities of life, and share those with another.

Written in Los Angeles, California, 2015, with special thanks to Benjamin Weissman's guidance during his graduate writing course in Culver City.