At my current job, whether at the assisted living facility or the nursing home, my walk distinguishes me. Specifically, the speed at which I walk. If I were to walk at my normal pace, I would have to weave my way between residents like a driver on the New Jersey Turnpike. And admittedly, there are staff that do–especially the nursing staff, for whom the goal
is to get to the next patient quickly.
I, however, have learned to consciously slow my walk. To walk at a similar pace to that of the residents. It communicates that I’m available to talk, willing to literally as well as figuratively accompany them on their journeys. And often it does lead to the start of a real conversation as people strike up conversations as I walk besides them.
I contrast this to the instructions I was given when I started my first job as a market researcher. The corporate environment there was one of business-like efficiency. We, as new hires, were instructed to always walk through the offices with purpose and direction–which meant, quickly.
I am struck by the difference: in the beginning I was to walk quickly in order to show clients that there was no time wasted. Now, I walk slowly to communicate to my clients that they aren’t wasting my time if they want to talk with me.
Occasionally, I still catch myself striding along, in a hurry to get to a meeting, or to the next item on my agenda. And I catch myself, and slow down. I remember that my walk communicates something, and that walking quickly means, “I don’t have time for you.”
For my exercise, I’m once again walking. My goal is an hour of walking, three times a week. I started today.
I went walking in the neighborhood, never more than a mile from the house, but for over 90% of the walk, I was walking on streets I’d never before walked (or driven, for that matter). It’s not like I don’t walk a fair amount, but I tend to walk to get someplace, and tend to have somewhat set routes. Today I was walking for the sake of exercise, and wandering wherever my feet took me. After a time, I deliberately sought out streets I hadn’t walked before, looking to see some new things. Which I did (I wish I’d had my camera with me today, I saw some odd houses).
It all made me wonder, how many walks can I take while walking new streets? Today, there were many other choices I could have made in the same general direction which would also have been new. And that was in only one direction, and arguably, one I know most well. So I’m thinking, I am, that I will set out to explore this neighborhood more thoroughly, and see what I see. Ideally with a camera, but even if not, just to know the neighborhood better, to get to know the little eccentricities of the side streets is well worth the time exploring.
Portland is a great town for walking and looking. I’ve just got to remember to do it.
As many of you no doubt know, and more of you have no doubt forgotten, my theoretical form of exercise is walking to work. I say theoretical not because this doesn’t count as exercise when I walk to work, but rather because it doesn’t count as exercise when I “theoretically” walk to work. And for the past month or so, there has been rather a lot of the “theoretical” walking to work (unless walking the 4 blocks to the bus stop counts…and I really don’t think it does).
Yesterday and today, however, I walked to work. Braving gray skies, and even drizzle today, I walked. I am back in my exercising groove (or at least getting there).
For those of you who don’t know me in person, and may not be acutely aware that I live in Porland, Oregon, or what that entails, you may be asking, “it’s raining, why not just take the bus when it rains?” (The rest of you, stop giggling; Not nice to make fun of the uninformed). The thing is, it is supposed to rain in Oregon from roughly mid-October to roughly mid-March. Not quite all the time…we get about a week off in February for good behavior. But other than that, it traditionally rains all winter. At least part of every day. Therefore, if I chose not to walk on the wet days, I wouldn’t walk at all during the winter. That’s just not a healthy way of life. So I walk in the rain.
The good news about walking in the rain is that most often the rain is not particularly hard. A good gortex raincoat and your pretty much ready to go (except for the spotty glasses). And it’s not too cold. Way better than walking in the snow. And the big payoff, of course, is the spring flowers. Which should begin showing up about a month from now. Which is what makes the Oregon winter so worthwhile.
I walk to work with some frequency. Far less often, I walk home. Tonight, I walked home (albeit with a stop for a networking happy hour about half way through). Walking in the cool evening was lovely. The moon had not yet risen (or had already set…I can never quite remember whether the moon appears earlier or later as the month progresses). There were stars, and lights from the houses. It was not the bleary quiet of morning: more people were moving about, biking and walking and driving and talking.
The neighborhood felt different from the morning, yet not in the ways one might expect. It doesn’t feel dangerous or isolating. Rather, it feels more alive, if more contained. In the mornings, it often feels like I am walking through a world with few inhabitants, the sole human inhabitant. In the evening, I am the one cut off from the life within the houses and cars. Life is bustling around me, yet I am not quite a part of the life in which people are engaged.
I’m not sure I’d want to walk home every night (especially not if I leave work at 9:15, as I often do), but it is a different view of the neighborhood and life, and it good to see.