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In which John goes on a walk to try to calm himself, and is reminded that we are really here, alive on the Earth, under trees. Thanks for walking with me.

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Good morning, Hank, it's Tuesday. 

It's early spring here in Indiana, and I like being outside at the moment. Life today feels so vastly different than it did just a few weeks ago. And my omnidirectional anxiety is often overwhelming. 

So I thought, maybe, we could just go outside and take a walk together.

Outside, the world continues apace. The honeysuckle, a wildly successful invasive species here in the Midwest, has begun to leaf out. The deer and coyotes have made a nice game trail through the clover for me to follow. The sycamore branches are still bare, splitting the sky above me into irregular polygons. 

This view always reminds me of an Annie Dillard line: "I am sitting under a sycamore by Tinker Creek. I am really here, alive on this intricate Earth under trees." There's something about looking up at tree branches that allows me to feel that I am really here, alive on this intricate Earth, which is one of my favorite things to feel. 

As we walk a bit further, we come to a little creek that will dry up in summer, but for now, is just burbling away. Actually, hold on, let's just listen for a second. *creek burbles* That's one of my favorite sounds: the sound of water on the move. This little stream will flow into the White River, which right now is a muddy, flooded cacophony. In a dry summer, I can walk across this section of river without ever getting my shorts wet, but for now, it's 30 feet deep and churning.

From here, the White River will flow into the Wabash River, which will flow into the Ohio, which will flow into the great Mississippi River, and then into the Gulf of Mexico. Even after that, of course, the water will just keep going, freezing and melting and evaporating and raining and flowing and being neither created nor destroyed, which is a thought I find deeply comforting. 

But back at the creek, the water flows clear and steady, and I think about a line from Leanne Shapton's book Swimming Studies: "Water is elemental. It's what we're made of, what we can't live within or without."

If we walk down the creek a little while, eventually we arrive at a swampy floodplain, where early flowers are in bloom, including these little beauties, known as "glory of the snow." I think of the Wordsworth poem "Lines Written in Early Spring," where he talks about believing, as an article of faith, that every flower enjoys the air it breathes. If you have to have a faith, and I do, that seems like a good one. 

Let's walk for just a little longer. I feel calmer now than when I started walking. I don't feel, like, calm, but I do feel calmer. I know the feeling won't last, nothing does, but I'm grateful for it anyway. 

Now that I'm feeling a little calmer, it's easier to have thoughts, if that makes any sense. My brain isn't swirling and spinning as much. It's less like the flooded White River and more like the little stream that feeds it.

For some reason, I think about this Lucille Clifton poem that ends, "the future is possible." I feel hope in there. The future is possible.

I look up again and I take a long breath, and I enjoy the air I am breathing. You are really here, alive on this intricate Earth under trees. 

Hank, I'll see you on Friday.