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.
A 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!)
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.