I told a friend, Bob, about these walks and his first remark was, “How did you find this walk?” When a brochure arrived at my home describing a teacher giving a walk in the park I realized he’s a traveler like me. I also deduced that he read the same book I did, titled “The Tracker,” A book I found on the blanket of a street seller.
Bob wasn’t a traveler yet so he didn’t see that this teacher had access to a certain kind of knowledge. Who knew that I’d take this walk each week for the next three years and find a generous teacher, willing to take me to places I’d only glimpsed in my dreams.
My friend Bob never took the walk with me. He did, however, question everything about the walk. He couldn’t understand why I kept going back. He first started to ask me out for coffee just before the walk, sometimes tempting me with street festivals and bookstores. By the second year, he wanted to meet after the walk to hear about the travelers and see my face. He said it had changed.
I once told him that each group of walkers gave me the impression I’d made a prearranged commitment to meet them in this life for those two hours in the park. The ease with which we all moved and talked was very unlike city dwellers, subway riders, and New Yorkers.
During the walks, Vin would lead and I’d take the rear. My legs became strong after a while and my breathing easy as we moved through the landscape week after week. The first few times I huffed and puffed, but soon my stride opened and my comfort increased. Breathing so much oxygen was invigorating. The trees and I began to know each other.
Walking as One
As we continued our walk, the travelers began to exhibit signs of becoming a clan or tribe. They were remembering how to walk quietly on the earth. Perhaps it’s because we were all cement and asphalt walkers walking on soft soil. The harsh pounding created by hitting pavement was gone. Without the noise we could hear each other.
Each person’s experience seemed to relate to what they were asking for and what they wanted out of the walk. Some wanted a brisk walk, others to learn about survival. Still others were open to the spiritual experience before them. Everyone slowly began to feel “something” was different about this walk.
We were all enchanted, taken to a park and put under a spell until the walk was over. Some travelers felt this and recognized it but others felt “something” they couldn’t describe. The universal response was, “I feel relaxed.” It doesn’t matter who was on the walk or whether they felt like I did about the day. What mattered was that we all rendezvoused for one beautiful New York afternoon to share the woods. Many times we hugged, said good bye, and walked back into our lives never to meet again.