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The Wonders of Walking

Maybe the turning point was that morning my then husband spit in my face. Or perhaps it’s simply who I am in this lifetime, but in either case, walking is in my soul and it’s how I work stuff out.

Walking is a spiritual experience, one that we humans pass by daily. We walk everywhere, even those of us who can’t physically walk. In the car, out of the car. Into the bathroom, out of the bathroom. To and from the mailbox. All walking but who notices the moments captured within these everyday walks?

I love to step outside for a stroll. My neighborhood is most convenient. Shoes on, door open, and I get to peel back the ceiling to reveal the magic of the outdoors. I’m off. There are loads of times I’d like to call on a friend to accompany me. “Wanna go out for a short walk? We can meet somewhere. ” The beauty of a walking partner.

Why walking? The short answer is:  it feels good.

I’m not talking about walking on a treadmill inside. This is an option, of course. A treadmill is good for exercise and I don’t mean to stick up my nose at it (well, I kind of do) but part of the rich value of walking is being outside.

Even if only for a walk around where I live, nature and activity are always there as accompaniment. Birds busy, swooping, chirping, in skirmish; someone passes by and says, “Hi”; riotous colors and shapes of plants and flowers; or, oh, I don’t know, there’s a weird bug on the path. There’s so many different possibilities of what might be a treat for me on any particular day.

It’s these small moments that bring value and substance to my life. I wouldn’t get this treat if I were inside a gym or on a treadmill. I’d be thinking, “When is this going to be over because I’m so bored and I’m just doing this so I can get some exercise.” Treadmill walking is a bit like dieting. It’s a deprivation of experiencing something special and comforting. Who wants to do that? Not me. I love food (and walking outside).

Walking along one morning with my head down, I hear a sound and look up to see a dog meandering towards me, out for a walk, too.  I have seen this dog before so I stop.  She stops. We greet one another.  A sweet moment of non-verbal communication. (Honestly, I did say, “Good Morning” and she acknowledged me a nod.)  We pass and continue on our separate ways.

Returning to my thoughts, I feel something brush past me.  Here she is, back.  I stop.  She comes around in front of me and we stand to face each other. “There you are!”  I say, as I lean over and place both my hands – one on either side – on her face. She lets me rub her.  So soft.  A few heartbeats and then she is off to her house and I am on my way.

Such a delicious moment of connection. I am heartened.  Life suddenly seems light and wonderful.  The world is beautiful and I am walking in it.

Walking is different things to different people. Talking to a woman member who is in a wheelchair. She came alive as she excitedly told me about how she met a woman for a walk “uptown.” “We strolled around the town looking in shop windows, talking to other pedestrians, had a bite to eat at a local restaurant and it was just lovely.”

The woman was so excited about “wandering” around with a companion to share the day. She expressed it in terms of getting out and sharing the outdoors, greeting others, feeling the air on her face, so much to describe.

I call it Ineffable. It’s a word I came across that describes the indescribable.

Being outside is indescribably delicious. The outdoors gives me such pleasure and buoyancy. Even when I can hear the rush of traffic, I’m still able to witness the life that is taking place around me. The little peep perched on the fence or the baby rabbit hiding in the bush next to the path or the hawk treading water in the air intent on its pray or the tender blades of grass drenched with morning dew, stretching over towards the earth, waiting to be munched by a cow.

Speaking of cows, it just so happens there are cattle that hang around the pasture adjacent to my neighborhood. Their hanging around comes in cycles. One day I come around the bend and they’re there! But the next day, nope. Or the geese that honk their way onto a nearby pasture. Each morning the geese flap their way in and land in the grass. Honking as they flew in from different directions in small groups, jockeying for position to land. Honk, honk, settle, settle. But now they don’t come in anymore. They’ve changed their pattern. Why? I have no idea!

The other morning I heard a lone honking, I turned to see a solitary goose flying overhead in search of its flock. It’s weird to see just one goose flying since they travel in groups. A bit further on, there it was, flying back the other way still by itself. I felt a pinch of worry that it was stressed and alone, so I wished it well on its way.

So many, little, scrumptious things to see and hear. It’s fun to go to a park or wilderness, but it’s okay not to. Just walking around my hood is fun, but if I procrastinate and don’t go, I won’t know this unless I step outside to witness it all.

Walking at night is great, too. Do you know how many people leave their curtains wide open at night so anyone (me) can look in? It’s a whole different sense of things. I feel like I get to know these people a little bit just by seeing what they are doing or their home decorations. Darkness makes the world a softer place and the lights on inside someone’s home seems so cozy.

But here’s the thing: it’s really great to have a walking companion to share it all with; someone to talk to about the weird decorations inside someone’s house or motivate me up that amazingly steep hill. But…if I don’t have anyone to walk with, I can’t let it stop me from stepping outside.

Finishing my day (or beginning my day) with a walk outside is extremely satisfying. I can say to myself, I did it! I did something good for me today. When I have a partner to walk with, we both can say, “We did it!”

So when I remember being spit on, I can now say, Thank you, for offering me the opportunity to walk into my life.