“I absolutely love cities that reward walking. In London, you can’t go three blocks without coming upon something grand and historic, a charming little square, or an interesting piece of street life. To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, when you’re tired of walking around London, you’re tired of life.” — Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
For those who haven’t yet figured it out, I’m often writing things I need to read or hear myself. So today, I’m reminding myself of how much I love to walk.
The insanely busy holiday season, coupled with the rainy and/or cold weather and my generally low moods lately have meant that I’ve not been walking nearly as much as usual. Like maybe 3-4 days of every week, at most, and only two miles or so when I do walk. For someone who used to walk five miles EVERY day (no matter the weather), this is a considerable slump. My bathroom scales know it, but more importantly, my mind and body feel it. I really, really need to get going again. Hence the pep talk.
It’s not a hard argument to make, though. I agree with Pang; I’m crazy about cities that reward walking. In this category I would immediately think of London, as he mentions, but also of Paris, Rome, San Francisco, Boston, Washington DC and pretty much any charming little town on either coast. Come to think of it, once you figure out where the sidewalks, bike lanes or other pedestrian-friendly roads are, almost anyplace can reward walking.
Cities offer an energy and vitality not found anywhere else, but suburban and rural settings have unique charms, too. No matter where we are walking, our minds are on a scavenger hunt for images that inspire, amuse, educate or palliate. Whether we snap photos with a man-made camera or gather visual memories with only our neurological equipment, we are building a scrapbook of comfort and joy that will stay with us on an unconscious level, even as our minds must return to focus on other tasks.
It may be true that when we’re tired of walking, we’re tired of life. If so, addressing the symptoms could affect the cure. I invite you to join me in getting outside, even in the cold or rain (bundle up! take an umbrella!) to gather images for our personal collections of things to be happy about. If you’re in the country, keep an eye out for wildlife, and an ear open to birdsong. If you’re in a suburb or city, stop in an interesting shop, or treat yourself to a cup of coffee or tea at a charming bistro. Or just use your imagination to transform a mundane scene into something unique, by looking more closely, or from a different angle.
Let’s go claim some of the rewards of walking. Feel free to share with us some details what you find (or what finds you).