What’s So Great About Walking

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a worn-out rose

The other afternoon, at work, I suddenly got stuck thinking about a couple of things I’m worried about–and which I’m going to do, even though they make me want to hide under the covers. I expect my medal any day now. By the end of the day, I was jumpy and exhausted from pointless worrying, and I just wanted to go home.

I took off the sandals I’d worn to work and put on the socks and grubby old sneakers that live in a hidden corner of my cubicle. Grubby old sneakers, cute work dress, and all, I walked down the stairs of my office building, went out the door by the loading dock/community urinal, and pointed myself toward home.

It’s not the fastest way home, walking. But it’s certainly the best. I headed down, past the bus shelter, and my brain let go and my legs took over. Stride, stride, stride. Or stump, stump, stump. I make no claims to grace. Past the restaurants, the paint store that went out of business, the cranes, the car rental place, the art supply store.

At the 10-minute mark, walking past the auto repair shops, I spotted the worn-out, overgrown roses along the chain-link fence of one of the parking lots and smiled.

It’s strange to me that I love walking so much. It’s so basic, so human. It’s like loving breathing—but all animals breathe, one way or another. Walking is more human. It’s what we do that the other apes don’t. Loving walking is like loving standing. Who loves standing? I don’t. But who loves walking? Me.

I love how walking shows me the world at a manageable pace. Nothing flashes by. At least, not the way I walk. I see every crack in the sidewalk, every plant. I know the bugs on the milkweed and the birds on the wires. I learn the shape of the land, the colors of the trees.

By the time I stumped up the tiny, gradual slope to my apartment, feeling the ache in my calves—god, so wimpy—my mind had settled. Back in my cubicle, there’d been a moment of resistance. If I’d kept the sandals on and walked the other way, to the subway station, I would have been home in 10 or 15 minutes, and could have gotten straight to the evening’s important work of lying on the couch. But the walk won, and I’m glad.

Photo: Helen Fields, those roses

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8 thoughts on “What’s So Great About Walking

  1. What a beautiful, detailed piece. You captured so many things here that deserve specific comment. A light tone with profound underpinnings, imagery, self-deprecating humor. . . gorgeous. Thank you for the delightful read.

  2. I love this. Walking makes me happy, too. Whether I’m walking in NYC or on the Yorkshire moors I get reminded of how big the world is and how many people are in it… and how much I’ll never know and how much I can try to discover. I find it peaceful and exciting all at the same time.

    And the phrase “worn-out, overgrown roses” is just so lovely to me. Thanks for this!

  3. You’ve captured a lot of why I like walking too (but more gracefully [your writing]). I like how music comes to mind when I’m walking. Good way to get the mind unstuck indeed.

  4. We’ve returned to inner Sydney after more than a decade in remote Australia. With no car, we walk everywhere. There is so much to see, enjoy and learn about in the back streets when moving at a manageable pace.

  5. I love how walking shows me the world at a manageable pace. Nothing flashes by. At least, not the way I walk. I see every crack in the sidewalk, every plant. I know the bugs on the milkweed and the birds on the wires. I learn the shape of the land, the colors of the trees.

    hell yes. we see the world how one should, no hurry, except i am 1000 miles away, id rather take a bus normally.

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