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Running While Walking

“What, no book today?” a neighbor hollers at me, momentarily pausing her yard work to chat.

“Nope, today I just want to listen,” I reply with a smile.

“That’s good, too. Be safe!”

By the time I wish her a happy evening, she’s already focused on watering her lawn.

10/30/11: Reading While Walking revisitedA couple of years ago, a conversation like this wouldn’t have happened. I was too busy readwalking to care about little things like neighbors, scenery or road traffic. To be fair, I only failed to notice the street once, as I wrote about in my Freshly Pressed post “Reading While Walking.”

Many things have changed since I wrote “Reading While Walking.” It would be simplistic to pin this change on any one factor, or two, or three. And yet three have easily been most influential:

1. Reading The Gift of Fear. Readwalking in the city is like gazelles doing disco outside a lion’s den. Readsitting is much safer.
2. “Mindfulness” landed on my radar as a real thing, not just a hippie concept to (discreetly) giggle at.
3 (or is it 2.1?). I started walking–well, mostly walking–with my son, Li’l D.

You know how adults say “I’d only run from a bear” or “I run for donuts”? Not so for Li’l D, for whom walking is that slow, slightly tedious thing you do when adults won’t let you book it. (Terrible, cruel adults!)

d running

When we go walking, we make it up to eight steps before Li’l D asks, “Can we run now? Or at that tree? Or at that sign?” He’s usually started running before I can even answer, forcing me to keep up until one or both of us are out of breath.

Watching him run has helped me more than any yoga DVD or self help book. When he runs, all he cares about is motion: speed gathering, limbs flapping, panting and laughing with the sheer joy of simply, awesomely moving . . . until, that is, he notices a pretty tree, or a leaf imprint in the sidewalk, or a hummingbird fluttering overhead.

He stops briefly to marvel at the wonders around us, then he’s running again.

Walking–nay, running–with him, there’s nowhere else I want to be. That’s not exactly surprising; that’s parenthood. What’s surprising is how that feeling has begun to extend beyond our walks together. Even when I’m walking alone, it’s as if he’s there with me, exclaiming over every kitten, garbage truck or fallen flower, and reminding me how much there is to see outside the pages of any book.

It’s getting harder to readwalk now that I’m walking in my son’s wake. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as adept as ever at readwalking. It’s just that I’d rather be walking full-on in one amazing world than split between two.

I fear I once overvalued reading while walking. These days, I find much greater joy running while walking.

running together

  1. July 10, 2013 at 4:05 am

    Thoughtful reflection on then and now. “Readwalking” will always be one of my favorite posts of yours.

    • July 11, 2013 at 8:32 pm

      Rereading it as I posted this, I could see a little better why you like it . . . sometimes it’s good to break away from serious contemplation!

  2. July 10, 2013 at 4:40 am

    I love this story so much! You have captured (for me) what it feels like to see the world through my youngest daughter’s eyes. She is so observant and she has taught me to marvel at the world’s beauty when we take walks. Before, it was all about me getting some exercise. Now, it’s more about connecting with her and taking her all in. I love taking walks with my girls and fear it won’t be too long when that won’t be cool–but maybe not. I will just keep trying.

    Thank you for your beautiful writing and powerful perspective of life. The picture at the end of the post is breath-taking.

    • July 11, 2013 at 8:34 pm

      connecting with her and taking her all in
      So beautifully put! This, wholly.

      It is so awesome to read your comment and think that one of my favorite teachers to date could possibly take something from my words. It is amazing. ♥

  3. July 10, 2013 at 7:11 am

    Beautiful post. I giggled a lot while reading it, too. Your list of influential reasons is excellent.

    I don’t go on walks as much with my kids anymore, but when I used to, I loved having little conversations with them, to point out things in our surroundings, to just spend time with them. We still spend time, but they’re very occupied with running and playing and throwing and climbing and being boys. It’s a different kind of time, but I love it. I try to never use my phone when we have outside time.

    • July 11, 2013 at 8:35 pm

      Reading your comment fills me with joy, and renews my intention to see our surroundings. I’m guilty of occasionally peeking at my phone still, but I’m getting much, much better, because nothing on the phone is as good as what’s beside–or slightly in front of!–me. 🙂

  4. July 11, 2013 at 3:06 am

    A most reflective post. As you think of this Now & Then disparity, what comes up in your mind? Is it nostalgia or empowerment…..?


  5. July 11, 2013 at 7:09 am

    I can so relate to this feeling, especially now that my son is becoming more “preschooler” than “toddler”. We joke that he never really learned to walk, he went straight to running.

    • July 11, 2013 at 8:36 pm

      Kids’ enthusiasm for motion reminds me what a gift it is! I hope you enjoy the running ahead.

  6. July 11, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    What can I say?
    You are a brilliant writer and soul, Deborah ans I ‘m honored to know you.

    • July 11, 2013 at 8:37 pm

      Hook, you honor me with your words. I mean to share your Ellen post, but whether or not she sees you, you will continue to move many–sometimes to laughter, sometimes to tissue. Rock on.

  7. July 11, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Such an insightful and terrific post. Just another one of those reflections that remind us to be in the moment, not trying to accomplish more than that moment requires in and of itself. Our kids are the very best teachers of this! XOXO-Kasey

    • July 11, 2013 at 8:38 pm

      The moment really is a fantastic place to be. You know what might make it even better? You! May we share a space and perhaps even some running soon. ♥

  8. July 11, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    The world around us entrances me more today than it did in the past, I don’t know why. You have marvelous reasons for it! I suspect mine is just age (woe).

    loved this, loved the pic of the two of you.

    • July 11, 2013 at 8:39 pm

      I might have to email you another one. Both had their charms, but this one was better for the post. I’m grateful for my little but wonderful family, and also for you.

  9. July 13, 2013 at 7:04 am

    There is nothing like those times of pure joy, running with your kid. You’re right to be there completely when you do it!

  1. July 17, 2013 at 6:48 pm

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