"Walking sorts out your problems and anxieties, and calms your worries. Living from day to day, from inspiration to inspiration, much of what I have learned as a Jain has come from wandering. Sometimes, even my dreams are of walking."
Canada has such strong South Asian writers, but when I get wistful about wandering in India, I go to the travelogue section. There is such exquisite arm-chair traveling to be had. This particular quote is from William Dalrymple's Nine Lives : Encounters with the Holy in Modern India.I loved this book and its strategy of profiling India's rich and complex diversity by recounting the narratives of nine very different lives. The quotation is from a Jain nun who, Dalrymple discovers, is on the path of spiritual suicide through sallekhana, or ritual fasting.
This quotation stayed with me because, while I don't suppose to ever really figure much out, walking is the most solid template of my day. I walk to and from work fully appreciating the seaons, and the time to observe me being in life. I walk my dogs, and just this morning got such pleasure from watching two little goldfinches playing like World War II dive bombers, a spirited courtship of flitting color. I walk to my mother's and on the way home I carry our talks with me. I am so happy for this part of my life. My mother, who traveled to India with me, laughed when I phoned to read her the quotation, and traded me with a poem of Richard Wilbur, exploring the same joy on foot.
Often the initial experience in India is aversion to the vibrant, sharp sounds, unmitigated smells, poverty, and suffering--and there definitely is that. There also exisits such a powerful tidiness of the spirit. Celebration and gratitude in the form of marigolds and chalk mandalas, sandal wood and cows that allow for a slowdown in the traffic (having said that, to drive there is to risk everything).