It’s been a while since I’ve taken a walk. I mean, since I don’t mostly drive during the week I do a bit of walking here and there just getting around to work and school. But it’s been a long time since I went and took a walk simply for the purpose of walking.
I am very, very out of shape.
I used to walk all the time. It was an essential part of my day; it was wrapped in to physical and emotional and mental well being. It was a part of me spiritually. The rhythm of footfalls, the pounding of drums, the beat of one’s own heart; these things are so indelibly human that to deny them is tantamount to denying one’s own humanity.
I stopped walking as much during a rash of street harassment I experienced prior to my trip to Bhutan, and then pretty much entirely after I returned from Bhutan. I was so sick and in so much pain after the trip, and then, well… my previous walking experiences had been so unpleasant, both having to deal with being yelled at by men in a pickup truck on multiple days, and having to complete the emergency hike in Bhutan while I had pneumonia, that the thought of walking filled me with dread. And when a thing fills you with dread it’s so easy to come up with ways to avoid it, especially when you’re busy.
And I have been kinda busy.
But last weekend I was a part of a parade. It was a short route, like a mile or less, not more, and all flat, urban walking, and by the time we were done and had walked back for lunch, I was feeling energized. I wanted to walk more. I was in a good mood, and my brain was clicking over at a good clip.
So today, when I finished writing up the notes for the latest episode of the podcast, I went on a walk. It was around seven in the evening when I left, and the sun was setting. It was the same route I used to walk in the evenings after work, a good and hilly two miles round trip, that can be extended to three by adding another hill. I stuck with two. And as I walked it, I just had all these memories, kind of barely formed, of times when I’d walked that route before; times that I’d seen deer, or times when particular slopes had been icy. I remember having watched the seasons change along that route.
And I’m not going to lie, after a particularly steep slope I was a little out of breath. The muscles in my hips feel tired from the slopes, both the inclines and the declines, and will probably be a little sore tomorrow. And you know what? That’s okay. That out-of-breathness, that soreness, that’s not a failure. It’s just another starting point, one of many I’ve had throughout my life and one of many that I will have throughout the years to come.
Starting points are fun. They’re the easy part, where everything is new and exciting.
I do desperately want to start walking again, but I won’t be able to do it every day with my class schedule unless I work it into my commute, and that’s only about a mile and a half. Maybe a little less. But maybe I can do it on some of the days. Maybe I can get a walk in on most of the days. And maybe until my schedule loosens up enough, maybe that’s okay.