Doug Bruns

Up and at ’em.

In Dogs, Life, Nature, Philosophy, Thinkers on April 13, 2010 at 7:02 pm

I walk the Promenade every morning, specifically the Eastern Prom. It’s about three miles round trip. But it’s not about the exercise. It’s about morning. About air. And clearing one’s head.  Nietzsche said the best thoughts are those that come while walking. (Thanks to blogger-philosopher Phil Oliver for this reminder.) Speaking of philosophers, it’s said that the villagers of Königsberg set their pocket watches by the grand-old rational-man, Kant, making his daily rounds, so precise were his habits. (Supposedly he once forgot his walk. He was reading Rousseau’s Emile.)

It’s only come on me recently how I’ve grown dependent on these morning strolls. This morning the sun had just painted my bedroom wall pink when my eyes opened. I realized I’d missed the sunrise. I immediately was filled with regret, regretting not being up and alert as the sun rose over Bug Light. It’s not a good thing to feel regret before even lifting your head off the pillow, but that’s the way it was. I rushed to make coffee and head out before the morning was spent. Maggie doesn’t seem to share my early-rising enthusiasm. But she comes around and out we go.

I’m not sure how I feel about listening to music while I take these walks. My heart says I should avoid the distraction. But my head tells me that the Goldberg Variations (Gould)  in the morning can only be a good thing. It is classic, this battle between head and heart, and I think it is the essence of human existence. Sleep in or see the sunrise? Walk in silence or listen to the immortals reach forward through the ages’ mist. What to do? There is no correct answer of course, only the tension one experiences when answers are not forthcoming. Is that not the essence of the human condition?

This returns me to the land of thinkers. Schopenhauer said that walking is arrested falling. One would expect that from him. I think more about this–literally–since I had a hip replaced two years ago. Every step is putting the body off balance, trusting that it will recover before falling. My hip has caused me some problems lately and I’m not sure it’s working as it should. That is another matter altogether, except that it isn’t, another matter, that is.. What really is this condition of being human without surprises, pleasant or otherwise?  This is where the morning walks come into play. Everything works in the morning for me. I am fresh. The day is fresh. Maggie is running, nose to the ground. (There is nothing, I feel, more beautiful nor perfect than a dog running in the morning, astride a body of water, the sun rising.) I know that I am not going to fall down, at least not this morning.

I had a conversation with an old and close friend this weekend, a buddy I’ve know for thirty years. As guys with that degree of familiarity will do, in a bar with beer aplenty, we talked about life, where we’ve come and how the hell did it all happen so fast. We knocked around our joint desire to live more simply. It is a theme in the air, common and shared, it seems by a lot of people. (Perhaps we’re spent–morally, emotionally, fiscally, who knows?– and are reacting.) I think, I told him, I’m making progress on that front. He asked me specifics. I wish I’d told him of my morning walks. That is how it all started. That is when the best thoughts come.


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