Walking is never boring.
I've done it all my life.
I've walked and/or took the bus everywhere I went.
Sometimes just a few blocks, sometimes a few miles.
Imagine walking a mile to the market, then carrrying a full grocery bag in each arm, or by hand, for the same distance home.
Once a week, or more. ;-D
Tim Holt, in the San Francisco Chronicle, has written an excellent article about walking that I enjoyed reading:
People in this country haven't walked much since the 1930s, before suburbanization and auto dependence took hold. Since then, we've come to accept the idea that walking is a decidedly inferior means of transportation.
That's hogwash, as we dedicated walkers know.
Come with me as I join Tim in singing the praises of perambulation and, in the process, hopefully inspire some of you to take those first few tentative steps.
Many people look down on anyone who walks, when they could be driving a car, or at the least riding a bus.
When you get out on the pavement for the first time, feeling small and naked alongside all that rushing traffic, your thoughts will very likely be along the lines of "poverty, Third World, peasant" -- one of the subliminal messages of the dominant car culture.
The thing to realize is that everyone walks somewhere at some point in their day.
It's just that folks who don't own a car do a heck of a lot more of it, as do people who walk as part of their exercise regimen.
One way to think about it is: Hey, if it was good enough for Wordsworth, Shaw, and Carlyle, then it's good enough for me!
One of the major benefits of walking is that it stimulates thinking, and, as the above-mentioned writers amply demonstrate, thinking can lead to great things. Perhaps in your case a new literary career, or at least a decent haiku or two.
Yes! Story and blog ideas can come while walking somewhere.
You will laugh and think I'm nuts, but there is something that I've done since I was 10 years old and will continue to do until the day I die:
Read a book while walking somewhere. ;-D
I often read from novels, non-fiction and magazines where ever I go, not neccesarily the whole trip, but I do read.
Many years ago someone told me he followed me for 3 miles, one day, watching me read a book as I walked along crossing intersections without seemingly being aware of anything around me but magically avoiding people and traffic and hitting all the stop lights as they turned green.
I told him (pointing at my glasses) it was easy when you have 4 eyes. ;-D
I've spent a month walking 8 miles each way to and from work because I could not afford a bus pass.
The one-way trips would take 3 hours and at night, on the return, I'd listen to talk radio and observe the passing scene around me (Cautiously, in some stretches, I'll admit!)
Do not think of yourself as a mere "pedestrian," with all the, well, pedestrian connotations of that word. Put some flair into those first steps -- strut or stroll or saunter a little. Better yet, think of yourself as a modern-day flaneur, the legendary 19th century Parisian boulevardier who stepped out of his carriage with his gold-tipped cane and immersed himself in the sights and smells and sounds of the city.
With or without a gold-tipped cane, you will quickly realize that you are richer in one very important respect than those who pass you at much greater speeds. You have the luxury of time. Even if you are walking to work, you will still have more time to take in the sights along the way. Or, if you are not on a fixed schedule, you can use that time to stop in that little bookstore, pick up an apple at the fruit stand, chat with that interesting-looking gentleman who's always sitting at the outdoor table on your route -- do all the little things you never seemed to have time for when you were speeding by in your car. Or you can simply savor the possession of all that time, walking at the slow, leisurely pace that is the measure of your newfound wealth.
He is so right.
Even when reading as I walk I am aware of all that is around me. Some sight, or sound, catches my attention and I look up to check it out.
When I don't have reading material with me I can truly get into the sights and sounds of the world I pass.
A few years ago I began carrying a notebook around with me to jot down words, advertising slogans and store names.
The idea was to collect words and phrase for story and poem ideas.
Walking requires much more effort and sweat than just stepping on the throttle, and it will take awhile before this physical challenge becomes an everyday pleasure. For your first real walk of perhaps a mile (approximately 12 city blocks), use the reward system: a stop at a coffee house or an interesting little shop along the way. After awhile, when walking has become a regular practice, stepping on the scales will be both reward and incentive.
I've taken 2 Honest to God HIKES since coming to live in the OC, have walked around the Newport Back Bay, explored the steps to the beach that can be found along a stretch of PCH in Laguna Beach and have plans for more.
Walking is a way to gain freedom and make connections at the same time. You free yourself from the limiting environs of an enclosed vehicle and begin to connect to the landscape around you, with all the sensory experiences it offers. You are taking the first steps toward freedom from gas and repair bills and beginning to connect to neighborhood and community...
As a walker, you open yourself up to all sorts of experiences, and you will find your share of the bizarre along the way, too.
Compared with any other way of getting around, walking is the closest connection to life itself, in all its varied forms.
A whole new world will open up to you.
You never know who, or what, you will encounter along your journey.
Most importantly you will be both mentally and physically better for it.
SANFRANCISCO CHRONICLE ( 2/26/06 ): Sauntering toward a post-oil era
Replacing cars with feet has benefits for humans and nature by Tim Holt. ( Via SFGate.com )
In response to an e-mail I sent the author I received the following cool thank you:
Thanks for your kind note and complementary riff on my article.
I suspect we're about the same age, and you brought back memories, going back about 50 years, when my mom and I did a regular one-mile roundtrip walk back and forth to the local grocery store, using one of those handy little two-wheeled carts.
Isn't it amazing how crazy, and off-course American society has gotten since then?
It is amazing indeed. ;-D