Walk like a fox

For the first month or so of the million-word year, I crashed through the wordy underbrush. Drafts flew from my fingers and soon crumpled into virtual wastebaskets. Nothing was all that good, but I moved too quickly to see it.

Amidst that frantic pace, I learned to fox-walk, something one of my characters can do adeptly. Fox-walking is a technique for walking silently, often used in a natural setting to avoid disturbing wildlife.


I quickly found out that fox-walking is very, very hard. The movement of the foot is simple enough, but it requires a great degree of grace and balance. The essence is that you stand with your weight on one foot, while the other tentatively finds a perfect place on the ground. And then you move forward.

When I did it, I moved agonizingly slowly. Across a room could take five minutes. Down the block, maybe twenty. I got a lot of very strange looks as I carefully made my way around the neighborhood. They probably thought I was going mad. I should have told them I was just making art, but it might come to the same thing anyway.

However crazy I might have seemed, or been, the fox walking was itself helpful. I could only imagine the grace of a person who, like my character, has been doing this for thirteen years. As I moved slowly across the sidewalk, taking deep, slow breaths so as to remain silent, some of the chaos cleared.

In time, I built a core of a story to balance on, while stepping forward lightly to test new fragments and ideas. To wrap this metaphor up with a very tidy bow, it was like fox-walking. It was hard. It was agonizingly slow. People thought I was mad. But if I watched carefully, sometimes I could catch something really beautiful, like a woman moving silently through the mountains might come close enough to see the shine on a bald eagle’s feathers.

If you’re interested in learning to fox-walk, I’ve got a few links below.

Survival Technique: Learning to Fox Walk

Barefoot Walking Technique: Fox Walking

Many thanks to A. Omer Karamollaoglu for the beautiful image.

4 thoughts on “Walk like a fox

  1. Lori says:

    I can see your challenges in walking like a fox. Balance, patience and ignoring funny looks. But how do you shake off our modern society’s values of busyness, exercise and goals achieved? This way of walking reminds me of the practice of walking meditation. You are supposed to move slowly with mindfulness, aware of each footstep. It is a method to distract the mind from its incessant inner chatter and achieve an openness to God or nature or the divine or to creativity. I have to admit that it is excruciatingly difficult for me. Much harder than the traditional sitting meditation. I would love to see how you do it.

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