I started doing a new kind of walk (out of necessity) a few weeks ago. I'm enjoying this new kind of walk…a little too much.
I'm looking forward to my walks, which is strange because I haven't looked forward to most of the physical activities I've done in…years.
I've even started to (sometimes) take two walks every day.
I'll tell you about this new kind of walk in a second.
First, some context.
I'm not new to walking. Before this new kind of walk, I used to walk daily (pending weather). Most of these old walks…I did them, but I didn't really look forward to them.
I just wanted to get the benefits of walking.
I don't walk for fat loss purposes; I don't walk to burn calories. I did enough incline treadmill walking back in 2006 in the heat of my fat loss craze.
The days of me huffing and puffing my adipose tissue away are long gone. As are my days on treadmills. I'm shivering just thinking about those memories.
I walk because, when I'm walking, I'm not (a) sitting down (b) inside of a room (c) in front of a computer.
I need less of those three things.
Most people need less of those three things.
I also walk because a long list of writers, thinkers, and creatives have said that walking is better than cocaine.
All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.
Nietzsche convinced me to walk more than any modern “health expert” has.
Prior to this new kind of walk, I didn't put much thought into walking. Sometimes I'd listened to a podcast. Sometimes I'd leave everything at home to fast from technology.
I didn't put thought into walking. I'd just move my legs like they knew how to move.
But then I injured my heel.
Some nuckfugget jumped into the air and landed on my heel (he was wearing spikes). I couldn't put any weight on my left heel. Which sucked, obviously.
Couldn't do any lower body lifting. Couldn't walk heel-to-toe. Couldn't cut potatoes.
(Okay, I could cut potatoes just fine. I was just seeing if you were still paying attention.)
But I'm an aggressive rehabber. I've wrote about my rehab philosophy a few times in the past — not gonna get into the guts here.
TL;DR, I get moving as quickly as I can after I'm injured. I walk the line between discomfort and pain.
So I started walking as soon as I could.
At first, I hobbled. I stayed on the toes of my left foot, making sure my heel didn't touch the ground. But then, after a few days, when I could walk with discomfort and not pain, I started to put a tiny bit of weight on my heel.
This required me to sloooowwww down my pace. A lot. To a uncomfortable degree, just because it felt so…different. My steps were shallow. Slow. Gentle.
I walked like a 97 year old retired iron worker, really.
It took me twice as long to walk my normal route, which sounds boring…even to me, right now. BBOOOORRRIIINNNG. I'm going to close out of this window myself, I think.
But it wasn't boring.
It was invigorating.
When I slowed down, I had no choice but to notice things. To open my eyes and look at things I normally didn't see. I felt like a guy sauntering around town with no where to be. Without an agenda —
And it felt amazing.
And that's when I realized something about the act of walking. Something best described through a conversation I had with my fiance as we were walking.
“Walk slower,” I said.
“Ugh. This is painfully slow,” she said.
“Well, I'm hurt. And, besides, what's the point of walking?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“We aren't walking to lose fat. And we don't walk to get from one place to another. Otherwise, we wouldn't even leave the house because we'd already be where we need to go. We start and end at the same place.”
“What's your point?” she asked.
“We walk to walk. That's the point: to walk. So why rush?”
I realize this might be very anticlimactic. I'm telling you to walk slower, which doesn't seem exciting or new.
But you should try it. Walk as if you have no where to be. Walk as if time doesn't exist. You'll feel the difference…mentally.
And you'll realize that most people are walking with the exact opposite mindset. They're walking fast. They're walking to get somewhere they want to go (or so they think).
I'm sure I could mention something here about enjoying the moment or relieving stress or…
But that's going to bounce right off the walls of your skull, as is most of this. Because self-limiting your walking speed isn't going to feel fun or exciting.
So I'll 1-UP things…
I'm getting older. My eyesight is going bonkers. I stare at a computer screen most of the day. So, on these slow walks, I make a deliberate attempt to alternate between focusing on things far, far away — like the clouds or the top of trees.
And then I focus on things really close to me.
Not very formal or scientific. Just something I think will help my eyes in the long run.
“To become a philosopher, start by walking very slowly.”
If you want to get a little more serious about fixing your eyes, check this out from GettingStronger.org.
Hat tip to Nassim Taleb for introducing me to the word “flâneur”.