As a dog-owner, I’m used to walking a lot regardless of the weather. I’m also used to walking in a most non-talkative company, free to think things over. I like walking. Recently, I have found a way of walking I call my caretaker walk, because that’s how I move around at work. My caretaker walk differs from my usual walk in that it is at the same time completely immersing – I concentrate on the act of taking the next step, and nothing else – and thus also, in a way, liberating.
Walking like this, I’m freed from the usual hubbub of random thoughts bouncing off the inside of my skull, which leaves me an unusual amount of brain capacity to concentrate on my surroundings. I become aware of the trajectories people move along, of their facial expressions and the state of their shoes – I can see where they come from and so, because that is my job, will be able to point them at the right direction.
The caretaker walk also works when I’m not at work. The walk is in some way both the synonym and the opposite of being invisible. What I’m trying to say is, when walking this way, I become totally visible – people usually concentrate on their destination and not the way they are walking, so it is possible to stand out from the crowd just by doing this – and at the same time, I’m surrounded by an “invisibility cloak” of total self-confidence. People see me looking like it’s natural for me to be there, like I belong exactly there – and so they can put me out of their minds until they have a need for me.
But there are, of course, other important ways of walking. My love is also studying to be a teacher, and for three weeks (starting yesterday), ze is doing a teaching practice at a school near us. Hir “schoolday” begins every day at 8 in the morning, and because the school is just two kilometers away, ze walks there and back. My current study plan is “independent work” until Christmas, so I have been able to walk with hir (and the dog) to the school these two mornings, and will do so again tomorrow. It feels good to walk in the growing morning light with my love, holding hands and maybe not even talking. Feeling the closeness and affection we have shared for seven years gives me strength to face a new day of making myself visible.