Owls & Early Birds: A Walk in Southfield

I’ve lived in this house for nearly 10 years and it has become absolutely home to me. This morning, I went for a brisk walk in the 28-degree dawn.

I’ve walked these neighborhood streets so many times: waiting for a baby to descend into the birth process, trying to quell the hawking-cough of a toddler with croup, and on long Saturday afternoons, to wave hello to my neighbors or find people to share a cup of coffee with.

When I first moved into this house, I figured it was a step up and a stopover until I could afford to move somewhere better. But when the time came to step up again, I surprised myself by declaring this home, this the best option, this the place to stay.

Even though I am no longer a member of this neighborhood’s large religious population, I still am heartened by traversing familiar streets, passing houses of sleeping families I’ve known a long time and seeing small children in religious garb waiting in the fresh snow for the school bus.

The streets were icy today and the skies a deep blue-gray. The sun pinked and yellowed to the east, painting the edges of delicate clouds. It was so beautiful, my view, and this in a neighborhood long forgotten by climbers.

With all the realizations and moments of the past few weeks, I celebrated the fact that I could walk familiar streets and maintain my balance on the slippery coating. Overnight, snow fell, dusting the yards white and painting the streets in an icy sheen.

It’s amazing that in a few-block walk, I could realize so many important messages about life. The familiar is energizing, streets whose bends and curves I know.

And the fresh air. We discount its importance. How many days do I sit at my desk, thinking/wishing I could be at a yoga class or taking a walk. Um, why not get up and go take that walk, even if it lasts only 10 minutes?

The ultimate irony: that we do not get outside and drink in the fresh air and sunshine and bask in the comfort of the clouds every single day. It should be the first thing on my calendar because its effect is so far-reaching, everything that comes after would be suitably enhanced.

Early birds chirped softly. Owls hoo-ed – I couldn’t see them but I could take in their rhythmic call. The ice beneath my feet crunched. My grandmother no longer has the ability to take such a walk. I can celebrate my own ability for as long as I have it. We all should.

The beauty and energy of a lifetime is missed until we no longer have it. I’ll gulp in that air, as cold as it is, and thank the good lord that I am able-bodied and aware every single day that I have it.

And so today, I board a plane for Atlanta, to take my message of relationships and storytelling to business owners there. We are all connected. We are all alive. We all breathe in the same air and are warmed by the same sun wherever we go, whatever we do, whether we appreciate and notice it, or not.

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