Mr. Spock has been having a bit of a hard time adjusting to his brother’s absence. He is too accustomed to bouncing words, ideas and hard-edged toys off of his big brother. Add to that a shared custody scenario, and you have a little boy who wanders grouchily around our house, unshelving books and scattering his knights and dragons. “I want my brother,” he cries, but refuses to talk when Sporticus calls. Some mornings, he lies on his brother’s bed, clutching his pillow, rocking to and fro.
Mr. Spock doesn’t want to discuss it. He runs from my words, my hugs, and coconut popsicle bribes. This past weekend, I decided to approach him sideways, as one does a cat. I sat on the sofa, and began to knit. He raged and screamed; I increased and decreased stitches, occasionally pointing out a particularly interesting pattern in the variegated yarn. He ran around the house in a diminishing circuit, eventually turning around and around on the rug in front of me.
‘Would you like to do some yoga poses,” I asked him. He kept spinning. “Maybe sit next to me and knit?” He blocked his ears and spun some more. My little one, my elvin boy with the Athena sea-grey eyes, my rational child, was completely off his nut. How perfect; I can relate to that.
I put aside my knitting and pulled on my boots. “Let’s go for a hike in the woods,” I said.
“No! Damn no! And hell!” Mr. Spock sat on the boot mat next to the front door, blocking the way out.
“This is not the time for swearing, Spock. This is the time for shakin’ it off. Let’s do this, boy.”
“No; it’s too cold.”
“That’s the best time to stomp around the trees. Warms them up.” I took the opportunity to slip on his jacket on as he thought about what I had said. His eyes grew big.
“Nah, but it sounded good, right? Move it out!” We tumbled out the door, laughing.
Solvitur ambulando is a Latin phrase which means, “It is solved by walking.” I first read it in Bruce Chatwin’s book Songlines, which includes writings about Aboriginal song and its connections to nomadic travel. For me, walking is meditation. I will walk in a rainstorm or on a beautiful Autumn day. I will walk with tears rolling down my face, and I will walk with a grin. I walk and take in the world around me, with a gaze of appreciation, not ownership. I have a gypsy soul, and I passed this gift on to Spock.
We are lucky enough to live next to a conservation area, and it has many marked trails to follow. I set a brisk pace that made it difficult to talk. I wanted him to work off some of his anxiety through the motion of his legs, using the pressure of climbing up hills and the resistance of walking down them. We automatically played Simon Says, hopping from rock to rock, or reaching up and tapping branches above our heads. We kept this up until we reached train tracks. Mr. Spock stopped. At this point, we usually crossed a stone bridge over the river and sat next to the water. This time, Spock turned and started walking parallel to the track.
“There’s not going to be another train for a while; it’s Saturday,” he said, picking up a broken tree branch and using it as a walking stick. He started off, and I followed behind him. His cheeks and nose were red from the cold, yet his step was light and controlled. We didn’t talk and we didn’t sing; we just walked in silence, listening to the crunch of gravel beneath our feet and watching our breath puff out into the air. There was no destination, no agenda and no purpose but to walk the sees. A “see” is an informal way to measure distance, literally meaning as far as one can see, and strangely accurate for giving directions. That day, Mr. Spock walked about three sees down the road before he turned to me and simply said, “I’m done. I’m okay. Let’s go home.”
In this season of Forced Family Fun, of financial stresses and/or sadness of yet another year passing you by, try walking it off. Put down your dishcloth and make a circuit around the yard. Turn off your computer and jog down your street. Put a big smile on for your houseguests, then walk right out your back door. Don’t stop until you have shaken off the mean reds.