Williams column: The ways of walking
I see other people, in addition to myself, walking for exercise outdoors. For some reason, walking on the floors of a mall make my feet and legs feel much more tired than walking on the surface of a planet. Some people walk for the sake of aerobics, but I also walk to help aid the bodyís insulin, burning up sugar as well as calories.
While out for a stroll, Iíve noticed that a walkerís particular method of swinging his arms is just as individually defining as their fingerprints.
One lady moves her arms in the manner of British soldiers marching in review for the Queen. This style of marching is sometimes seen in Middle Eastern countries which used to be part of the Empire, and in some island ěnationsî in the Bahamas where the once ěunsetting sunî of that former Empire now makes daily obeisance to the night.
The lady whose arms swing as those of the soldiers at Buckingham Palace also carries hand weights, so she is a moderate weight lifter as well.
In addition to walkers, there are also bicyclists out for a ride. One man brings his dog on a leash when he bikes. The manís biking pace could be describes as ěmedium,î but not so for the dog. For every single revolution of the bikeís wheels, the dog makes several running steps on each of his paws, giving the appearance of his receiving a greater workout than the man.
One day, I observed a strange young man appearing to overhandedly ěclawî his way down the sidewalk instead of the more usual underhand swing. Perhaps he saw something in front of him which remains invisible to the rest of us. One lady takes this gentlemanís clawing of the air and personalizes it as her own in the form of punching. Just as what the man is clawing at is only known to him, so is the object of her jabs.
Another lady has clenched fists also, but doesnít punch with them, instead swinging them lowly and out to the side. I never want to encounter the ěclawerî or the ěpuncher,î or the weight-swinger head on, but attempting to pass this lady would also have inherent hazards.
One walkerís particular carriage of his arms while doing his cardio walk is quite strange. I would think that in the absence of such conscious movements as swinging, clawing or punching, the laws of physics would dictate that the arms have at least an unconscious oscillation while the legs are walking fast, but not in the case of this gentleman.
He walks with his arms downwardly and rigidly fixed at his side. Every time I see him, I am reminded of an old science fiction movie of the 1950s: ěInvaders from Mars.î In the movie, a young amateur astronomer trains his telescope on the sky one night from his bedroom window and sees a flying saucer land in some sand pits not far away from his house ( as a youth, I cut off the kitchen light and stuck my telescope out of one of the kitchen windows one cold winter night, only to see a turbulent blur, failing to calculate what happens when warm inside air rushes out of a window to meet the cold air outside).
The Martians in the movie had a mode of walking which resembled a ěhopping jog,î but held their arms stiffly at their sides just like that gentleman whom I often see walking ( but at least his legs donít replicate that ěhopping jogî).
When I see him walking, I have my doubts about Einsteinís statement about the laws of physics being universally applicable, and wonder if this man is from ěsomeplace elseî with a different set of physical laws, and that he is having trouble adapting to the planet of his current residency.
Sometimes, he wears a UNC stocking cap, which gives him a little more normal appearance (but this is probably only a conscious, calculated attempt to blend in with the local human populace).
All of these walkers are unique in their arm motions, and I guess what I do with my arms, seemingly ordinary and common to me, may have its own strange uniqueness when viewed by an onlooker.
I look forward to my daily encounters with my walking friends, but from one, I will always keep a respectful distance, and if I find myself behind her, will never attempt to pass. She is the walker of whom I previously spoke, who swings her tightly clenched fists lowly, with an outwardly arching swing.
If I were to attempt to pass her, and those low, side-swinging fists met me in collision, since I am an old widower and have already made my contributions to humanity in the forms of my children, Rachel and Jeremy, it would make no difference in the long run, but in the short run it would hurt ó quite a bit.