So, I’ve noticed something.
I’ve noticed that you notice more when you’re walking. As I stated in an earlier post, I’ve been trying to get out and walk regularly. Usually every other day or so. I walk up the street that I live on (the only part that’s uphill), turn onto another residential street, cross a somewhat busy two lane street, then I take a couple of back streets that lead to a medical complex. Within this medical complex is a fitness park that consists of a paved track that is exactly one mile long. The round trip to the spot where I start the track is almost exactly 1.5 miles, so if I walk the entire thing I get a good 2.5 mile walk in.
I started doing this several months ago, but my desire to get healthier was swallowed up by the desire to sleep all damn day, so for most of the time while I was working third shift I did not walk. I started back up a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been reasonably diligent.
So, major newsflash here, walking is different from driving. When you’re driving your mind is constantly busy: Your hands are at 10 and 2, you’re watching out for other drivers, you’re making sure you’re still in the proper lane, and of course you’re also talking on the phone, texting, and putting on your make-up. Or if you’re not putting on your make-up then you’re eating a breakfast burrito, don’t want to be sexist about this. All of this while you’re rocking out to your favorite classic rock song or yelling at Sean Hannity, depending on what radio station you have on.
The point is, when you’re driving there’s a lot of stimuli happening. Not so much when you’re walking. Walking is a very mindful activity. There you are, feet falling on the road, ears attuned to the noise – or the stillness – around you, eyes free to notice things you hardly see when you drive the very same route: Yards manicured or neglected, fallen leaves, acorns strewn in your path, kids, dogs (at least the angry ones are tied up), birds, the hissing of summer lawns, trash. Lots of trash, people are pigs. On my most recent walk I decided that I’m going to pick up one piece of trash every time I walk – plastic or styrofoam anyway, stuff that won’t biodegrade. It’s a drop in the ocean, but if everybody started doing it…
When I’m on the street, I follow my Boy Scout training (and still conventional wisdom) and walk against traffic. There are no sidewalks along this route, and it’s funny to watch how drivers react to me. If there isn’t a car in the other lane, they usually slide over to where they are about halfway into the other lane. A bit much, I’m not that overweight, but OK. Safety first. But some people get waaaaay over to where they are completely in the other lane. It’s like, eww, a pedestrian!
I walk when it’s still light, and I’ve only felt scared one time. A bunch of young yahoos in a convertible honked their horn as they sped past me. It made me jump a little bit, then I felt embarassed, hoping they didn’t see me jump. I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction. I thought about giving them a friendly one finger salute but I decided that I actually am smarter than a fifth grader.
I don’t know what their deal was, I wasn’t even in their lane. Completely not in their way. They probably just wanted to assert their superiority over me: “We’re in a car and you’re walking. You suck!” Or maybe they wanted to demonstrate the Doppler Effect.
When I get to the fitness track there’s usually a decent cross-section of people: Runners, walkers, weekend warrior types, old, young, kids, sometimes a stroller even. There are usually a few people walking their dogs, the medical center has thoughtfully provided doggy doo stations along the route with bags and trash receptacles that hella stink when you walk past them.
Did you ever watch a dog looking at his master picking up after him? Maybe it’s just me, but they always look a little confused. Like he’s thinking, “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you wanted that.” Or maybe he’s just wondering who picks up his master’s poop.
These are just things you notice. You notice more when you’re walking.