The joys of walking slowly

About a month ago, my friend, Ed, and I rode the train to New York to hear Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh talk.

We arrived at Penn Station about thee hours before the dharma talk, and rushed to the Broadway theater where he would speak about slowing down to be more mindful.

That’s right, we rushed to hear about slowing down.

Travels cover croppedSince then, I have been reading “Travels with Epicurus: A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life” by Daniel Klein.

In his 70s, the author visited his dentist. “He said I had to get these implants over the course of a year [or] I would look older with denture plates …and my teeth would pop out once in a while,” Klein recalled. “And I thought, ‘what do I care if have a goofy old man smile? I am an old man!’”

So began his quest to find the way to grow old pleasurably. With a bag of philosophy books, he traveled to the Greek Island Hydra to study the wisdom of Epicurus and of modern day Greeks who age in grace and the pleasure of companionship.

On the island’s hills, Klein also discovered, at first by necessity, the pleasure of walking slowly.

Writing in Ladies Home Journal, Carol Mithers says, “Most of the time you walk with a destination in mind and the urge to get there as fast as possible. You hurry, head down, eyes anxiously scanning the phone for messages, fingers frantically typing a text, completely oblivious to your surroundings. But walking slowly…ambling…strolling…whether you’re going somewhere or nowhere in particular is a whole different experience. Slow walking — no iPods or cell phones allowed — isn’t a workout; it’s an exercise only in observation, a way to look at the places and people around you as a small child might, with curiosity and wonder.

Thick Nhat Hanh frequently writes about the rewards of walking meditation. Since his talk in New York, my almost-daily hikes have become strolls, saunters. I do carry a phone because I am seeing so much more than I ever have, and I want to make photographs. And I try to follow the Zen master’s advice:

Smile, breathe, and go slowly.”

Boston Marathon Daffodils project needs help

Marathon Daffodils is a collaboration of nonprofit organizations, gardeners, cities and towns, organizations, businesses, and citizens interested in preserving the spirit of the Boston Marathon and Boston Strong, while embracing the tradition of celebrating the arrival of spring to Boston.

MarathonDaffodilsLogowithBlueFontSome of Massachusetts’ top horticultural organizations, partnering with communities and volunteers, plan to plant daffodils along the 26.5 mile Boston Marathon route, to create a new event “Marathon Daffodils.”  Tower Hill Botanic Garden, The Massachusetts Horticultural Society, New England Wildflower Society, The Garden Club Federation, The Town of Brookline Parks, The Charles River Conservancy, the Master Gardeners and other groups have agreed to collaborate.

The goal is to raise $1,000 per mile for a total of $26,500 from Hopkinton to Boston.

 “We want to do something to lift the spirits of the community, in support of Boston Marathon 2014 and Boston Strong,” said Diane Valle, volunteer and organizer.

 “We are excited to participate,” said Kathy Abbott, Executive Director of Tower Hill Botanic Garden, “because we believe Marathon Daffodils represent Spring and rebirth. This is a great community building opportunity.”

Plans include outreach to supporters and volunteers from young to old; and novices to Master Gardeners; to plant daffodils. “Marathon Daffodil” donations are welcome, sent to The Cooperative Bank, 201 Main Street, Charlestown, MA 02129. Or give at gofundme.com. Without contributions this project will not be possible.

“With your support, the planting of daffodils is to commence in October we hope you do what you can to rally the private homeowners to follow our lead and plant daffodils,” said Kathy Thomas, former Garden Club Federation president and horticultural activist.

‘The seas are the heart’s blood of the earth’

Weekapaug Beach croppedThe seas are the heart’s blood of the earth. Plucked up and kneaded by the sun and the moon, the tides are systole and diastole of earth’s veins. The rhythms of the waves beat in the sea like a pulse in living flesh. It is pure force, forever embodying itself in a succession of watery shapes which vanish on its passing.”

–Henry Beston, The Outermost House