Stepping on Acorns

I go on a lot of walks. It’s the only form of exercise that doesn’t leave me feeling like death, which probably means it is barely exercise at all, and my expanding waistline supports this notion.  I suppose it would expand a lot more quickly without the walks, so they do serve a purpose.   I walk, I listen to podcasts, I think.  And at a certain time of year, I step on acorns.

This is absolutely not a metaphor for any other hobby or professional pursuit.  I really do this.

You might be asking, why would I want to step on acorns?  The right acorn, stepped on in the right way, is practically an orgasmic experience of textured vibration and sound.  The perfect acorn crunch is like the best bubble wrap pop times one hundred.  Really, why does anybody do anything?  It’s pleasurable, and there’s satisfaction in a stepping done well.

I’ve collected below a few tips and tricks to the practice that I think would be beneficial to the beginner.

First, you have to go on walks in places where there are acorns.  A treadmill is no good.   Indoor tracks or malls, no good.  You miss 100% of the acorns you don’t see.   Find the acorns, and walk.   A nice neighborhood full of mature trees like the one I live in is a good option.  If you live in a place without trees, such as the desert, I’m afraid this activity might not be for you.  There’s almost certainly some other kind of local analogue you can take up.  Let me know what you find.

Next, you have to keep your eyes open and scan the ground ahead.  You have to know where the acorn trees generally are, and generally the season of the year in which acorns litter the pavement.  You can walk randomly, sometimes accidentally stepping on acorns, but for the best results, step with purpose.  Over time, you’ll find that you’ll develop a sense for acorns as you walk and it won’t take so much effort.

The actual stepping can have a variety of outcomes:

Sometimes, you miss the acorn entirely.  There’s not much sense in altering the rhythm of your steps to get that acorn that’s fallen out of your path.  Sometimes, the acorn falls on the grass, and you can’t crush an acorn into the soil.   Sometimes, you step for the acorn, misjudge the distance, and you come down hard on empty air.  Them’s the breaks, no pun intended.  You have to let go of the acorns you miss.  There will always be more acorns.

Sometimes, you step down on an acorn and it’s all rotted out, mushy, and it makes no satisfying crunch. It just kind of… deflates.  It’s a disappointing when a step goes awry in this way, but it’s basically out of your hands.  The acorn went bad through no fault of your own.  You came to it too late, alas.

Sometimes, you step down on an acorn and it doesn’t crunch at all. It’s a hardy sort, and mostly just hurts your foot, even through the soles of your footwear.  That acorn wasn’t ready yet.  Hit it up on your next walk.  Some acorns, you can’t crack for days.  You might come to enjoy the challenge.  You might just kick the acorn into the storm drain out of frustration.  Who knows, maybe that acorn was destined to be a tree, and there was nothing you could do to stop that.  Wish it luck and move on.

The worst feeling is when you step on an acorn and you realize it wasn’t an acorn at all– it was a snail.  Acorn crushing is harmless; each tree drops thousands of them, and most people don’t want a forest in their front lawns.  When you step on a snail, you get the same satisfying crunch, but it comes at a terrible cost of guilt and grief, not to mention an agonizing and instant death for the snail.  Sometimes, this happens because you’re not paying enough attention.  Sometimes, you step on a snail accidentally, because of poor lighting or bad eyesight.  I don’t have any really good advice to avoid this, except to try not walk where you have seen snails in the past.  Best to avoid those regions entirely and apologize sincerely to the snails.  You can’t take back the pain you’ve caused, but you can try not to do it again.

When your steps are just right, when the acorn’s fallen in the right patch of concrete, and when you walk with purpose, setting your sights on the right nut–you get the perfect crunch.  It happens maybe one out of every ten, twenty acorns.  The sound, the feeling of it under your foot, it’ll be a mix a pleasure and the satisfaction of a job done entirely right. Nothing beats that, and you can do it a dozen times a day.

To recap: stepping on acorns successfully requires a mixture of planning, intent, practice, and luck.  But I know that if you dedicate yourself to the process like I have, you too will be doing it at a professional level in no time at all.

This is definitely about a real thing.  But it might also be a metaphor about other things.

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