Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How It Started (or How I Learned To Walk On Water)

[Not the post I envisioned when I sat to write, but it at least keeps me on the horse.  I'm hoping to write at least twice a week.  Anything.  Just to keep my mind churning.  As such, some entries will lack the quality I desire.  I will provide post-post written, pre-post posts, such as this, to note when I hit or miss what I meant to write.  This one conveys what I wanted to, but not in the form I had originally pictured.  I'd give it a B-, even on a curve taking in account my physical pain (decent) and mental anguish (Cal's football signing day has been monumentally disappointing, thanks Tosh).]

Do not misinterpret the title, the "started" part, not the "walk on water" part, I meant the "walk on water" part quite literally.   As the old, dated, posts I pasted to this blog would indicate, what follows is not really when what is wrong with me started.  It's when the change started.  Hopefully, it's when the correction started.

There were always a few things I knew was different about me, things I had realized.  I tried listing them.  I had thought on many of them before even realizing to add my walk.  You see, I was searching for possible physical manifestations of my misery.  Compared to an "uuuh" sound I allegedly made after every sentence (an exhale with vocalization?), how I walked was not really what I was focusing on to begin with.

For example, as a member of the King's Canyon Roaring River Trail Crew, I developed a knot in my back.  It was ridiculous.  No amount of massage or stretching could weaken it in the slightest.  It literally protruded from my back visibly, and it was hard.  Over time, I had had some conflicts with my supervisor.  As things between us got more difficult (he even tried to get me to quit smoking by creating a "smoking section" 100 yards away from camp), I was miserable.  I finally quit, and within minutes, I noticed the knot was gone.  Right or wrong, I concluded that the knot had been a physical manifestation of my misery.

So, again miserable, more so than ever before, I was grasping at straws such that I might find a physical manifestation once again, and maybe this time backwards extrapolate to figure out if I could improve my situation.  Eventually, I turned to my walk.

My walk was different from most such that I could be picked out of a crowd, even from a distance.  I cannot describe it as I obviously was the walker, not a viewer.  Others had commented on it in varying ways most of my life.  I was a toe walker, and I used significant effort.  My shoes wore down significantly on two opposite corners (I hate that I don't have an old pair to examine now and scrutinize).

I walked very fast, I can say with certainty.  I do not believe it helped in any way shape or form that I grew up on a hill.  I carried a rather full backpack and a trumpet case up that damn hill for far too many years.  Do not think for a second I write this off.  No, I am certain it contributed to my condition, but only so much as it would a normal person.  Now I know I was broken already, so the hill, the books, and the trumpet were merely another front joining the perfect storm.

Primarily, I knew that my walk took a lot of effort, as if I was carrying a great weight, and this is where my realization formed.

I considered evolution and natural selection.  Competition drives the long term success of traits.  Under the stress of competition, it is those best suited to the environment which thrive.  It is logical that traits which use the least energy to produce the same desired results are superior, and therefore more likely to be passed along.  The more I thought about it, the more it made sense that I was using too much effort with every step. 

"Perhaps I had taught myself this walk because of the damn hill?" I wondered back then.

So I sat down with pencil and paper to do some math and figure out the ideal walk.  Do understand, I meant to identify a perfect walk, one which I believed evolution would strive towards, which it had and shall continue to move towards.  I thought that by finding the perfect walk on paper, I might be able to simply improve my own, if it was, in fact, the wrong way to walk, and possibly lessen my misery in the process.

Right off, it was pretty clear.  The perfect walk, neglecting friction, would be a matter of simply keeping the body up in the air once the gait speed of choice had been achieved.  There would only be force applied straight down.  The body, already in motion, would remain in motion.  You would basically just raise your feet and put them down.  I made several sketches.  [For a visual, picture your hands grasping the rungs of a ladder.  Now, make the ladder lie flat.  Maybe that helped.  I'm afraid I am not tech savvy enough to scan and insert my drawings yet.  Some day.]  They admittedly looked like I was trying to create a perpetual motion machine, which, in some ways, I was.

And so began my endeavor to change my walk.  As often as I could, I focused on every step.  I would alter the tilt of my hips or stomach such as to not push so much, to not use my toes so much, to let the foot land with ease instead of force.  I would envision my old shoes with clear scrapes from repeated and undesired friction so I could avoid such steps. This I did for many months, a feat in itself, before the real changes started.

But I fear losing control of this post, again being sucked back into chronologies and tangential tidbits that make my tale too difficult, too large for me to grasp, too entangled to figure out how to articulate it.  Entangled, how appropriate?  Anyways, I was going to describe how to walk on water.

It is simple.  Just as outlined above, the key is to only apply force straight down.  Make sure you reach your desired speed before reaching the water.  Trying to slow down or speed up by owns own means once upon the water will result in failure, almost immediately.  Once you have reached the water, again, already at the desired speed, you must maintain "step pace" such as to keep your feet under you.  There lies the trick.  Each foot must go slightly in front of and behind the body, but you have to only allow the portion of each foot that touches the water to be applying force downward.  There must be no forward or backward pressure.  [An aside I will write of in depth at some point - I would recommend "bare foot" running shoes.  I wear Vibrams, but if the toes freak you out, there are several other brands.]

So remember.  (1) Reach your desired speed first, (2) Maintain "step pace" to remain vertical, and (3) No forward or backward pressure.

Using this approach, your gait will appear to glide upon the water, though actually moving exactly as if upon land using the perfect walk, and you can walk on water.

Just make sure you freeze it first.

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