Everyday I Walk


There seems to be sandy beach forever. I tried to Google how many miles it stretches but I can’t find anything accurate. I don’t know how far forever is. I just know I can walk for three hours south along the sand, and I’m still not at the airport. I’ve only gotten as far as two hours north.

When I’m not walking, I’m staring at my computer screen, the opposite of what people imagine themselves doing when they come to an exotic island. I’m writing another book. I’m writing about complicated relationships and street art and breakfast foods and social media stalking and fragile hearts. I’m writing another fucked up love story.

It’s been a long time since I’ve spent so much time alone. This time is the sum of all my waitressing hours, added up and converted into rupiahs so I can write and walk and write and walk. Soon I’m not going to have this time. All these seemingly endless blank pages will be full, the days will be used and I will be somewhere else. I’ll be back to the business side of my life. Saving, editing, serving. I’ll probably be wishing again, for more time.

Soon I’ll be somewhere with someone who keeps saying he misses me too. This makes these days now both easier and harder. I don’t count on anyone or anything the way I used to. I learnt my lesson, twice over. After the heartache turns to anger and the anger dulls, there is nothing for a while. And then comes the acceptance of the nothing. Then what? I say I’m jaded. I am. But I am still hopeful, in the same wild way I always was, fully and recklessly. I still believe in beautiful possible things.

My calves hurt. My legs aren’t used to these hours on soft white sand. I learnt everything I need to know about physical pain three years ago when I studied Vipassana meditation in Nepal. I sat with my legs crossed for a hundred hours across ten days. The pain I felt in my knees during those sessions, like my bones were screaming and I couldn’t move my hands to block the ringing in my ears.

The days here are long. I have so much time. I almost wish I could save some of it for when I need it more, later. Always guilty I am, of wanting to put a bit of the good aside. Always slightly terrified there won’t be enough. Contradictions are funny, like I’ll easily spend all my money in two months away and not think twice about it, but I’ll desperately try to hold and save any kind of happiness that shows up. As if I could have a bank account for bliss. Be careful with it, dispense it to myself a little at a time.

I do wonder how I did it before. I backpacked alone in the east for an entire year not all that long ago, though I was different then, still so unaware of myself. I filled my days up with stuff, other backpackers and men and cheap drinks and so many countries, beaches all over the world.

Now, I’m working the other way around. Clearing the stuff. Releasing the desire to fill my space, to keep moving all the time, the unhealthy behaviors, the seeking of things outside of myself.

At first I tried to set intentions for my walks. Like, I will walk until I forgive myself for x. Or I will walk until I figure x out. Or, I will walk without thinking about x or x or x or x.

Both fortunately and unfortunately, there are limits to the mind.

Yesterday I only said the words coffee and please and thank you out loud. I’m glad these were my words because these are words I like a lot. I’ve been spending a lot of time with my thoughts. Mostly I think about what I’ll eat and when I’ll eat. Even though I sit in the same small bamboo shack and eat basically the same thing at the same time every day. I still think a lot about it. I’m in Indonesia so of course I eat vegetable noodles and spring rolls and smother everything in peanut sauce. And every day it tastes just as good as the last.

A couple of months ago I was having a conversation with someone after a meditation workshop. He said at some point maybe I’ll find the small questions will become just as important as the big ones. He made a silly face, weighing the words with his palms out to his sides, like why do I exist or what should I have for lunch?

Maybe I’ve arrived.

There is a meditation room in the guesthouse I am living in. It took me nearly a week before I went inside. I am often resistant to what I need most. I sat for a bit, it was hot inside and I was impatient. (Forever impatient.) When I left I accidentally slammed the door. I’m sure I disturbed at least three people and I felt bad about it until I convinced myself feeling bad was not serving me.

I find myself quietly sorry, for harm I never meant to cause.

I went out for a walk. A stray puppy started following me. There are stray dogs all over the place, but unlike the ones in other parts of the world I’ve seen, they are mostly healthy and friendly here. They snack on the daily offerings washed up at the edges of the waves, seem to live a nice life on the beach. I kept trying to lose the puppy but she was persistent, so I named her Ducky and we walked together until the sun set. When I got to the road, I thanked her for her company and said goodbye. I said bye loudly, almost meanly, hoping she’d understand my message through my tone and wouldn’t follow me onto the road. And then I walked away without looking back, praying she knew I was doing what I had to do out of love.

I was going to say something about the puppy being like a persistent memory. How sometimes, in spite of how you love, the only choice is to say thank you and walk away. But maybe that’s not what I’m trying to say. I’m always trying to find a moral or a good ending. I never know quite when to stop.

One of the Vipassana teachers told me eventually I’d move past the pain, the physical is only ever a manifestation of the deeper. You can work through it all, she said, just keep going.