On the mornings that I walk, I leave the house about 6:25, after my first two cups of coffee and half an hour of journal writing. My standard route takes me around the lake and across some low hills in about 50 minutes. These days it's just on the cusp of dawn when I set out, and every morning the view of the lake is a little different. This morning, as I looked at our house from across the spillway, there were beautiful mists rising so I stopped to take a picture. We've lived in this house for over a decade and I am still astonished that this is what our front yard looks like.
I walk briskly, listening to music (this morning a mix of Keith Jarrett, Queen, The Who, The Police and a string quartet by Wernick), feeling the stiffness creak out of my legs and back. I do this primarily for the well-being of my aging, sedentary body, but it's my mind that gains the greatest benefit.
I don't know where my thoughts will go, and that's a good thing. This morning, my initial preoccupation was with the external review of the libraries that we're embarking on today. I had a morning meeting scheduled with Maureen Sullivan and the Huron consultants and I was thinking through the critical points that I wanted to get on the table during this initial session. I remembered a document that I should have added to the website and made a mental note to send that in as soon as I got back. I thought about how I might respond to some of the questions that I thought they'd be likely to ask.
I'm optimistic about what the results of the review will be, but naturally still a little anxious. I want there to be some surprises -- otherwise what's the point of bringing in consultants? But I want them to be surprises that I'm happy with and I don't have any control over that.
Before too long, though, my thoughts had drifted. I found myself thinking about a response that had been posted to a comment I'd made on a blog post and what I might say back if I wanted to take the time. I knew that I didn't want to take the time, and wouldn't, but it was fun to turn some sentences over and over and shape what the appropriate response might be.
And then I was thinking about the upcoming trip to San Francisco, that the Chicago Collaborative meeting on Thursday will be my last and how I'm ready to step away from that project, but what an amazing amount of time I've put into it over the years. And what I might still want to do even when I'm no longer officially a part of the group.
Whatever the other topics are that come to mind on any given morning, inevitably, at some point, I'll find myself thinking about the band and new songs we're trying to learn and how can I find enough time to play because my chops are so rusty because I don't get into the basement with the guitars and amplifiers often enough...
And then I'm walking back down our street and I take the earbuds out and slow down a bit and start to shift into a more directed mode. When I get to the house I pour my last cup of coffee and sit back down at the rolltop desk and pick up my fountain pen for a last fifteen minutes of journal writing. Usually the first thing I find myself saying is, "What a great walk that was!"