Walking in Little Rock

little rock
This is how Little Rock is presented on Norwegian Wikipedia. I had the pleasure of walking there, and I hope I can do it again
Wikimedia Commons

I find myself in a strange situation tonight. I don’t have anything to write, which is unusual for me. I don’t publish something every day, but on those days when I don’t I am still working on a new post. I have heard people doing meditation being asked to empty their minds. How is that possible?

It’s not that my mind is empty. I have a lot of thoughts there, so it’s not exactly a vacuum. My expression may look vacant, but I assure you that my head is very much used and lived in. There is no room for religious mumbo jumbo there. Besides, if you empty your mind anything can move in. Someone tried to pressure me to do Qi Gong once, but I was sceptical when they talked about opening my mind and allowing the life energy to flow freely, or something like that. But I digress.

I have stuff I could and should be doing, like reading one of the five books I’m struggling with at the moment. I find it hard to concentrate, so I tend to do lose focus and start something new. I could also be writing on my book project. I did that earlier today, so I think I’ll do something more enjoyable. I’m going to share some of the thoughts that have occupied this space today. I have been walking in Little Rock, or rather thinking back to when I did 13 years ago.

I got married in Little Rock and my mother came for the wedding. I took her to a museum one day, and we were going to meet my wife for lunch later at the university. It looked easy enough on the map, so I decided we could walk. That may not have been the best possible solution. We got lost and walked around for hours.

I asked three people for direction, but I didn’t get an answer that made any sense to me. A friend of the family just happened to pass through the area, and fortunately she noticed us. I was told later that this was in South End, which is apparently a part of town you don’t want to be wandering around in. We could have been less fortunate. I looked it up today and found this page rating livability. It doesn’t look very good for South End.

I had many excursion alone too. I remember several times when I tried to find something downtown. I applied for a job as a substitute teacher once. It took me a while to find the School District Office. I believe it was in West Markham Street, and again it looked very simple on the map. It felt like I walked around half the city, but I did get well acqainted with the area around Capitol Hill. For some reason I tend to forget the important stuff, but what I do remember best from that walk was that there was a purple PT Cruiser parked close to Capitol Hill. That was the first time I saw that model. Beautiful car!

There was one time when I walked home from the university. I didn’t have money for the bus, so I had no choice but to walk and this was in the middle of summer. I have never felt such heat and humidity. Living in Arkansas was like never being allowed to leave the sauna, but I guess the locals can deal with it better. As I walked home an old man passed me. He looked like he was enjoying his walk a lot more than I was, and he even had the energy to talk to me.

I almost did the same mistake again. I had been to physical therapy and decided I could walk over to the university after the treatment. All I had to do was to walk straight ahead along a road through a forest. This time it was that easy, but it took longer time than I thought. So I was quite tired when I got there. But it wasn’t that bad. The physical therapist was an australian guy with an interest for the World Rally Championship, which is a popular sport in Norway. We talked about Scandinavian geography, and I think this was one of the few people I actually had a chat with during my whole stay.

But there were some walks I did enjoy. I walked quite a bit in the area around the Governors Mansion. This is the historic district and there were a lot of really nice houses. There was especially one street I fell in love with. It didn’t have the most spectacular houses. They were smaller, but the street appeared to be more secluded, and you almost got the feeling that this was farther away from the traffic than it was (I think the next street may have been Main Street).

I have always thought it was a shame I didn’t get more out of my stay. As my friend Jay has pointed out I have a beautiful family, so it’s not like I have nothing. But It would be nice to try again under different circumstances. That door is closed at the moment, but I hope it’ll open again in a few years. Then I want to walk some more, but maybe not alone.

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3 thoughts on “Walking in Little Rock

  1. Besides, if you empty your mind anything can move in.

    Yep.

    Taking a stroll down memory lane may not involve heavy-duty intellectual lifting, but this was still an enjoyable read 🙂

  2. South End? Really, John, I didn’t realize you were quite so adventuresome!

    Like you, I love the neighborhood around the Governor’s Mansion. But you wouldn’t believe the changes in those neighborhoods. HUGE houses being built, and also much gentrification going on. Not long until many people are priced out of their own neighborhoods.

    But I am not sure that South End had really changed much.

    p.s. If you are too bored, you can finish the e-mail you promised!

  3. Quick revisit.

    RE having “nothing” to say.

    Knowing that one has a blogging audience can eventually place an author under unnecessary pressure to turn out a never-ending series of spectacular reading material.
    Most writers experience inspirational fluctuations, I think. Sometimes, you will hit on a truly amazing topic that “everyone” seems to be curious to read. Other times, the purpose for publishing is to just clear your mind or organize thoughts in order to better sort through a bothersome concept.
    Occasionally you get a nice surprise as people show interest in something you didn’t really think was that impressive. Or an article that meant a lot to you seems to get ignored.

    At any rate, there is a form of “meditation” that is not related to mystical religious practice. Christians are not to try to empty our minds completely, but rather, to fill them with what is true. So, it can also be perfectly acceptable to be contemplatively quiet while considering life in light of scripture…and let God help you determine what you are thinking in the first place.

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