IVP - Strangely Dim - Walk Much?

June 2, 2006

Walk Much?

I just walked into a wall. It wasn't like I had my head in a comic book or was testing to see if I had sonar or anything; I just walked into a wall. My head was somewhere else.

This weekend my eighteen-month old nephew ran into a wall. He was so excited running down the hallway that he turned too early. It was cute because he's so little, and he's cute when he runs, and he got over it quickly. But I'm not little, I wasn't running, and I'm clearly not over it. Not cute.

I've noticed lately that when I get stressed, I start to check out. I don't listen as well when people talk to me, I don't notice how people are feeling when I see them or talk to them. And lately it seems like I can't stop running, like I'm facing wave upon wave of hyperactivity--family visits here, road trips there, writing projects there, special events here. I'm coping by checking out, which is clearly not coping at all, if it means that I'm stepping on toes and walking into walls.

This really should be a time of reflection for me: my birthday is coming up, my annual performance evaluation at work is coming up, and I have a blog--the center of the navel-gazing universe. I should have self-awareness coming out my nose. But I can't seem to collect my thoughts: it's like my brains have been rattled from banging my head on too many walls.

It strikes me that a person is much less likely to slam into a wall while walking than while running. At the very least, it's easier to stop, but walkers are also more likely to be aware of their surroundings--unless, of course, their minds are racing and their heads are somewhere else.

I came across this passage from Henry David Thoreau's Walden, which I think offers a pretty astute analysis of the crisis of pace: We think we have to know everything, even though we cannot, and so we strive continually and thereby gradually and unrelentingly run ourselves down.

Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them. Their fingers, from excessive toil, are too clumsy and tremble too much for that. Actually, the laboring man has not leisure for a true integrity day by day; he cannot afford to sustain the manliest relations to men; his labor would be depreciated in the market. He has no time to be anything but a machine. How can he remember well his ignorance -- which his growth requires -- who has so often to use his knowledge?

So I'm going to try to run less and walk more. As soon as I can pry my head out of this wall.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at June 2, 2006 12:07 PM Bookmark and Share

Comments

You sound like you need a sabbatical, or at the very least a 2 week holiday!

I'd stick in some management crap about setting targets and focusing on the task in hand frees the mind but it's not going to help and anyhow, whenever I'm stressed I forget all that stuff :)

My tip, if I may be so bold? Use the gym more often, it's done wonders for my mental state.

Comment by: Peter at June 4, 2006 5:10 AM

Glad we took my picture off of Strangely Dim, Peter, or your gym comment would be giving me a complex.

Comment by: dave at June 5, 2006 7:35 AM

You just summed up my existence. Permanently checked out... Distracted... Out in la-la land.

We should schedule some time to hit the gym together. I may have some time in Novemeber.

Comment by: Dan at June 5, 2006 8:29 AM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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