Going for a walk has always been an underrated activity. It is never a topic for small talk about what you did on the last weekend. It never grabs the headlines or the trending hashtags on the internet. Yet there it is, in the background. It doesn’t discriminate anyone, it can be done by all ages and in most seasons. With the advent of health trackers there is a spurred interest in it, though there is much more to pursue than counting mere number of steps.
My love for walks
During my childhood growing up in Ambernath (near Mumbai), I used to have daily walk after dinner with my close friends. My friend’s dog will often tag along with us to stretch its legs, as me and my friends discussed our future dreams and aspirations under the starlit sky. Later when I moved to Pune for work, there was a well maintained lush park near our house that me and my mother would regularly visit. And when I relocated to Seattle with my wife, our most favorite spot for a weekend walk was at Green Lake Park in Ballard that has a beautiful walking trail around a lake. We still remember the visual treat at the park when trees used to come alive during the fall season. I may have moved and lived in different cities, however my love for taking a walk has always been with me.
In the past couple of years, I have been also taking a short 30 minutes stroll during a work day to help clear my head. It is often on these short walks that I would find different perspectives of solving a complex problem that I was struggling with or just helping me find a moment before I react. A short walk usually doesn’t take more time than checking the social media feed, while the benefits are much more. I have always got the best ideas for a presentation or just help prioritize my thoughts. The idea to write this article, yes you are right – also on a walk.
In the book “Daily Rituals”, author Mason Currey presents fascinating insights into daily routines of great personalities from art and culture. One of most striking point across all of them is how they regularly incorporate, enjoy and derive inspiration from their daily walks. Here is a snippet from the book.
“Ludwig Van Beethoven would work until 3 pm taking occasional break to walk outdoors, which aided his creativity. After a midday dinner, Beethoven embarked on a long vigorous walk, which would occupy most of the rest of the afternoon. He always carried a pencil and couple of sheets of music paper in his pocket to record chance musical thoughts. Perhaps for this reason, Beethoven’s productivity was generally higher during warmer months.”
One step at a time
If you can combine taking a walk with awareness, it is as relaxing as meditation. As we walk in soothing natural environments, we see ourselves more clearly from the everyday banalities that we are involved in. A walk is an activity where-in you have to necessarily take one step at a time and not more. That is a useful reminder of not to overwhelm ourselves of complexities of life. And with each step we are taking, we are effectively moving forward in motion, no matter how gradual it may be. Thus with each of our activities we undertake in daily life we are creating the future we want, one step at a time.
The next time you go for a walk I wish you take a moment to pause and reflect on these incredible pleasures of walking!