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The Storming Bohemian Punks The Muse: 2021 Edition #10 – ‘Keep On A-Walking’

It seems like forever since I’ve been for long walks. In the early months of COVID isolation (begun just three days short of a year ago), I developed a habit of driving to some rural park and enjoying the outdoors. I discovered the wetlands in American Canyon. I wandered trails through the Vaca Mountain Range above the Napa Valley. I walked over the Carquinez Bridge from Crockett to Vallejo. I discovered a beautiful Bay beach near Point Molate, not far from the legendary Pirates’ Cove, nestled in trees and offering a spectacular view of the Richmond Bridge span snaking its broke back way across the Bay to San Rafael.

I have always been a walker, ever since I was a homeless teenager. I walked to live. Because, always, I have had to get away. Sometimes from this, and sometimes from that. But I always had to make my get away. Sometimes I ghosted, and sometimes I left with a bang. I am a guy who takes his leave.

When I admitted, nearly 30 years ago, that I am an alcoholic, I learned in AA that I didn’t always need to take a walk. My sponsor advised me, “Sooner or later, you know, you’ll have to take a stand. And this AA group is as good a place as any. Take the load off your back, kid, and set it down.” I stayed close to that AA group for a full decade, before moving on from Southern to Northern California. But spiritually, I’d found a home and it has served me well.

A bit more recently, I met up with Benedictine monasticism and its spirituality of stability. I learned to sit in meditation and contemplation, more or less regularly. I’m no miracle monk, but I feel the pull of the cell and, as a lay monastic associate, I have learned to live by the bell most mornings.

Beached in my living room by the winds of COVID, I have been happy with my occasional masked forays into nature, a lone ranger.

But gradually, my contemplation began to develop a tinge of agoraphobia and it became harder and harder to leave the house. Trips to the grocery store were like spelunking expeditions to hell. I swelled with righteous anger at the COVID deniers. More often than not, I sat and stared at the cable news networks, plump with panic, roasting in rage.

My body and emotions declared a blitzkrieg of insults, all stress related. Dandruff, rashes, neuropathy, fatigue, muscle spasms, heart palpitations, anxiety, insomnia, weight loss, weight gain, and mood swings. And that’s an abbreviated catalog.

I haven’t been infected with the virus; but I’ve been infected with the time. And it is a real burden. And a familiar one: I am a gay man who lived, presumably uninfected, through the plague years. I never got H.I.V. in my bloodstream, but I got AIDs in my life stream, no doubt about that. It’s no picnic, honey.

With the passing of the previous pretender to the Presidency and the ascendancy of a legitimate leader, I can feel a welcome sea change. Now that I’ve had my first dose of vaccine, I sense the fear abating — and that is why I can now see where I have been and what it has been like.

Honestly, I didn’t know it was that bad. I had inklings, but perceptions mercifully shut down when reality is too hard to bear. I now see that it has been a most traumatic year.

Shit happened.

But the times are changing, as they always do, and I am in the mood for celebration.

It is possible, you know, to walk without walking away. One can just walk for the sake of walking in a beautiful world, and we can also walk towards something.

So: hey ho! Let’s go!

Where are you going to walk from here?

Perhaps we could go together?