Walks Smooth the Sheets

| 3/27/2009 1:19:00 PM

Tags: thought, focus, spiritual healing, Kansas University, campus,

A portrait of the author, Caleb ReganWalks are always good on the mind and spirit, and there’s no better place in Lawrence, Kansas, to walk than around the campus of Kansas University. Recent strolls through the hills and valleys of KU have reminded me why I like going for walks so much in the evening, and why I never minded spending 10 hours at a time on campus.

Gwen and Cali, my retriever, take a break from our walk as the sun goes down on the KU campus.

Apart from the exercise, to me, walks are about clearing my mind and organizing, even focusing, my thoughts.

Here at the office, it helps, no doubt, to get up from my desk and take a stroll around the mile-long industrial park. I return to my work area feeling rejuvenated and focused on the tasks at hand.

But at the end of the day, it’s different. Ernest Hemingway once compared unwinding with an evening cocktail to smoothing the sheets before bed. When you work with your mind all day, you need that release to wash out all your thoughts and refocus them so you can set them aside for the night and pick them back up – hopefully in a fresh way– the following day. For me, walks work in the same way as a cocktail worked for Hemingway. I’ve enjoyed the evening cocktail too, but I find the walk organizes and focuses my thoughts, rather than just pushing them to the back of my mind.

For others, it may be doing the chores, knitting, cooking or reading.

4/1/2009 3:27:01 PM

Cindy and Lori - I find it interesting that you both mention gardening. I'm willing to bet that as far as our blogging family, most people's "unwinding" has something to do with gardening. I can't wait to have my own garden. It's one of the things I miss most about living on a farm, although I truly didn't hold it in such high regard when I was digging potatoes and picking beans on those hot July days. Thank you both for reading and commenting. Hank - Thanks for reading. You truly seem to enjoy chores and all of the farm work. Working and observing nature to relax. I admire that.

hank will_1
3/31/2009 11:49:31 AM

Hey Caleb -- What a positively moving and articulate piece. Thanks for posting it. I am lucky to have chores in the morning and evening to help keep me on the path. When days are long enough, I will also walk the farm and note the subtle and not so subtle seasonal changes. I love my daily work, but I look forward to every minute I can spare with my feet planted on the natural earth. Hank

3/30/2009 7:23:34 AM

Caleb, My relaxing and unwinding always involves my camera. I might go for a walk, or just roam around my gardens looking for hidden treasures to photograph, but I get totally involved and lose all track of time.No matter what thing was on my mind, I come back in refreshed and excited about what things I might have gotten photos of! Cindy, I'm rolling my eyes...I had to laugh about the ironing! I HATE to iron, and ONLY do so when I need to dress up for something to look presentable! Of coarse I love to hang up laundry, so you can roll your eyes back at me if you like!

cindy murphy
3/27/2009 8:42:46 PM

I love walking too, Caleb. I spend a lot of time, (but sometimes it seems not enough), walking the beach. The sound of the waves, and roar of the wind is very relaxing and at the same time invigorating - Lake Michigan is rarely quiet. I've also been a semi-frequent visitor to the nature centers here this winter, putting many miles on my boots trudging through the snow. And weird as it may sound, the cemetary is one of my favorite places to walk and unwind. Gardening too is a biggie for me; digging in the dirt is just too fun, and mowing the grass is a chore that I covet - I really get disappointed if my husband gets to it before me. All those things I find relaxing and mind clearing, but what tops the list for me is cross-country skiing. Nothing gets me more focused and feeling like I can take on the world, (or at least my little corner of it), better than working up a good sweat skiing. Since our snow is gone, (for now - we're supposed to get some this weekend), I've been out on my roller-skis the last couple of weeks and it has been wonderful! Oh...and about smoothing the sheets? Ironing. Yep, I love to iron. So methodical, how can it not be relaxing? Go ahead and roll your eyes - everyone else who knows I like to iron, rolls theirs too.

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