Just Walking

Yesterday I facilitated a training that explored theapplication of Alexander Technique principles to the activity of walking.  I was leading this training as both a fundraiser and in preparation for the Green Walk for Jobs and Justice, Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT)’s upcoming 16-day, 200-mile walking expedition from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh to build support for our campaign to stop PNC Bank from financing mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia. I will be one of the “Mountain Justice Walkers”, walking between 10 and 17 miles a day over several days.

Like most everyday movement, walking is something that we take for granted, and in doing so we simultaneously interfere with our innate ability to walk with power and ease. As I prepare for the Green Walk, I am feeling especially reliant upon Alexander Technique to keep me moving with ease and balance, and hopefully build up stamina and minimize injury.

Yesterday was a bit chilly with a steady, soaking rain. The plan was to walk 3 to 5 miles for about 2 hours in Center City Philadelphia, but as a group we agreed to cut that down to just under an hour and about 2.5 miles. It was like walking inside a rain cloud, and although not horribly windy or frigid, it wasn’t exactly pleasant. A ways into this soggy walking practice, I heard myself ask, “why am I doing this again?” and then, “how is this helping anyone?” In the same instant I recognized the part of myself that believes everything in life should always be nice and comfortable and pleasant. And another part that expects all endeavors to be a means to an end and not an end in themselves.

In any case, it seems like now, just one week before I begin the Green Walk, would be a good time to try and answer the question of why. 

Why I Am Walking

  1. Because I can’t sit idly by
  2. Because it will make me stronger in body and mind
  3. To put my conviction to the test
  4. To make a bold statement
  5. To bring attention to the plight of the communities and culture of Appalachia and all the people who are living with the effects of MTR
  6. To become closer to the Earth
  7. Because I want to slow down
  8. To promote Earth Quaker Action Team
  9. Because I am just so fricking sick and tired of corporate culture dominating everything everywhere
  10. Because it will be fun, joyful, empowering, instructive, and totally ridiculous
  11. Because I know a leading when one hits me upside the head
  12. To become a better organizer and teacher
  13.  To give me something to blog about
  14. To meet some Pennsylvania Quakers outside of Philadelphia
  15. I feel it is my Christian duty
  16. To move and be moved
  17. Because it’s better than sitting on my ever-widening ass and doing nothing
  18. To find out more about praying with my feet
  19. To soak up every bit of wisdom and know-how from George Lakey that I possibly can
  20. To be humbled
  21. To get in shape!!!
  22. Because it will be nothing but a completely focused and directed experience, the sort of opportunity that doesn’t come around too often. 

This Green Walk for Jobs and Justice is about restoring the balance in our economic, environmental, and spiritual systems, or establishing right relationship. I am so lucky that I get to do nothing but walk, step by step toward a clear and obtainable goal: to ask PNC Bank why it prefers to invest in destruction and degradation instead of clean, sustainable, prosperous communities.

The whole time I can just focus on my body. Eugene Gendlin said, “’Body’ means interaction with the situational environment. Even the simplest living bodies are complex and purposeful interactions with their environments.”  So in restoring the environment through cutting off the money supply currently funding its destruction, I am engaging in a “purposeful interaction”, mile by mile.  I know I will be restoring myself, my own bodymind, as I walk. 

I am so blessed to have this chance to work intimately with people I admire and respect.  Seeing this group come together in about 6 weeks to literally put this Green Walk on the map has been a lesson in the miraculous.  When we say “way opens” we are not kidding. People are really ready to be helpful, to join in and give their support in many ways. I think a lot of the time most of us are anxious and afraid, and any tangible, practical thing we can do somehow mitigates that, and feels good. The best part is, we’re actually not doing all that much. Certainly we’re challenging ourselves mentally and physically by walking, but essentially that is all we are doing. Just walking. And maybe connecting with our neighbors as we go. So it feels productive, and it is, but not in the usual way of our daily, multi-tasking selves running around trying to Get Stuff Done. 

There is a refreshing quality of honest and direct communication in the planning process that I have seen, amongst ourselves and also between EQAT representatives and the hospitality and activist contacts we’ve been calling statewide. It seems that even when people cannot accommodate a request, they have been generally supportive and their reasons for saying no almost always have to do with what is best for their congregation or community group. In explaining themselves, they reveal their values and contribute something of themselves even in the refusal. That feels like good politics to me. 

These are just 22 of the possibly hundreds of reasons I am joining the Green Walk for Jobs and Justice. I do hope I will have enough energy on the road to write short, frequent posts on this blog.  Meanwhile, I welcome your comments. 

Why are you joining the Green Walk? If you want to but can’t, why would you want to?

What messages should we bring to James Rohr, CEO of PNC Bank, when we get to Pittsburgh?

Stay tuned.