A benefit of walking—among its many—is the opportunity to slow down. Unlike using a car, bicycle, or bus, a walker can only move as quickly as her legs will take her. I have a naturally quick pace, but on these walks, I am thoughtful about taking my time. This particular walking habit is less about exercise and more about moving old energy in my head and heart around and out of my body. Though I know I am a recipient of the health benefits too. My legs feel stronger. My posture is straighter.
When one walks city blocks, one begins to notice how much trash lands on the sidewalks, private yards, and in the curbing. It's like buying a new car. Before you bought it, you never saw one of that make and model. Then after you buy it, you see them everywhere. I hadn't noticed the trash so much until it was literally at my feet. And the cigarette butts! Good lord, they're everywhere. Now, I see trash everywhere. On my commutes to and from work, I mentally collect trash and wish that my superpower could be to mentally clean up the mess from the driver's seat. I digress.
The slowing and noticing also helped me monitor and gauge the subtle shifts that were taking place in my head and my heart. I more readily recognize anxiety as it creeps in. I lean in and breathe more deeply. I welcome tears when they spring up. Again, I breathe, welcome the tears, and keep walking. I am self-conscious when I smile and laugh at something I hear in the current podcast that accompanies the walks. I wonder what I must look like having a party-for-one right there in the middle of the business of Clayton or a quiet residential street. I am taken aback in these moments by how foreign the laughter feels bubbling up from within. I'm a laugher. In my younger days, I would write 'laughing' as a hobby on getting-to-know-you forms at school, camp, etc. I register sadness when I discover just how little laughter has erupted from me in recent years. I miss it, and am determined to correct it.
The walking opened up the space for me to discover the laughter deficit. I am paying attention. What else am I going to discover as I hit the pavement?
|One of the treasures I found because I was paying attention.|