by Neva Bodin
“Stand up straight!”
“Walk with a book balanced on your head. Keep your shoulders back!”
“Don’t walk with your head down when walking alone. Look confident.”
These are statements I’ve heard throughout my life, some to help me have good posture, and the latter so I don’t get attacked or assaulted.
I love to study fellow humans. “People watching.” I begin imagining what their story is, or maybe how they would fit in a story I might write.
One of the things I notice about so many young people—teens and young adults—is their posture and way of walking. Shoulders are bent, heads down, sometimes pants propped low enough that they have to do a sort of duck walk to keep them on for some boys. (A young neighbor boy actually lost his pants in the middle of our street while skateboarding). Others walk in a bouncy long-step way. Many girls walk in a swinging side-to-side motion with arms swinging back and forth. I see torsos bent forward and shoulder rounded.
Does the young person with head bent, doing a casual bouncy, or floppy long-step walk exude confidence? Or is he just hopeful he’s looking confident? Or perhaps this person doesn’t realize how he/she is walking as he/she stares at the IPhone? Does the young girl swinging from side to side feel this is a fashionable look, or will she hit both sides of the hall with her hips, clearing the path for those behind, but not coming at her?
Do they realize that we get kyphosis (outward curvature of the spine causing a hunched back) as we get older? And I would guess this can be hastened by prematurely hunching the shoulders before nature does the job. (As in bending over a keyboard as I am now doing.)
Here are some synonyms for walking from thesaurus.com/browse/hike: hike, jaunt, parade, step, stretch, stroll, tour, airing, carriage, circuit, constitutional, gait, march, pace, perambulation, peregrination, promenade, ramble, saunter, stride, traipse, tramp, tread, turn, schlepp. (Airing? That’s a walk?) And there are more words depending on if you are using walk as a verb or a noun. This is a great site for a writer of course.
I hadn’t heard of peregrination before. It’s a long journey, usually made on foot. And schlep or schlepp, in this instance, means to carry something heavy or difficult or move with effort.
Now when I people watch, I will try to relate their type of walk to one of those descriptive words. And I will have more fodder for my stories.
And perhaps, I will remember to hold my head high as I schlepp the groceries in, traipse to the washing machine with my load, saunter over to the refrigerator, and stroll back to my rocking chair, as I think about doing an airing at a future time.