Thanks (and no thanks!) to an ap on my phone, my daily walks are marked in steps and miles. My bike rides once were measured with an odometer, but thankfully, it broke and I never replaced it (though still somewhat aware of the miles of various SF bike rides). My summer swims in Lake Michigan have long been counted by strokes, and so in addition to any pleasure the walks, rides and swims give me—and they do— there is always this sense of aiming for some quota that theoretically fulfills some other purpose of calories burned, heart rate regulated, muscles exercised. And one could rightfully say that I’m rather driven in my professional life, almost always with a list to check off and a goal to achieve and a timetable within which to do both.
And yet. Since forever, wandering aimlessly in a new city or town or neighborhood or stretch of woods is also a cherished part of my psychic makeup, singing alive the Incredible String Band song “I’ve nowhere to go and I’ve nothing to do, I’m not in the slightest way upset, I’m not chasing a hope or a dream or a cloud, and I’m not even chasing the sunset.” This gets more and more difficult with the 24/7 in-touch phone in my pocket, but still I can often resist the pull and save the e-mails and such for when I’m home.
So here on Lake Michigan, we blew up the rafts the other day and to lie on them out on the waters and let the gentle waves take me where they will, to drift aimlessly without purpose or intent, is simply a little slice of heaven. And if your 6-year old grandson is on your lap, also in some kind of floating trance punctuated by the always fascinating little thoughts that pop up in his head, why, that’s lovely too. To move away from “the riptide of busyness” (my daughter Talia’s eloquent phrase) and just drift.
Summer exists to remind us of that and today, I remembered.