by Rebecca Cochran
I’ve been walking daily since I was a little girl. I have my father to thank for that. I relished our evening walks together from my adolescent through teenage years. We’d set out, just the two of us, every evening after dinner, walking, sometimes talking, always observing the world around us. When we’d return, we were ready to tackle the dinner dishes and I was ready to tackle my homework.
Walking is a gift. It is something most of us can do for free. Walking doesn’t require any unusual talents. We don’t have to buy any special clothing (although a comfortable pair of walking shoes is recommended). Most of us can simply head out the door of our home or office and just walk.
Walking is nature’s cure-all. No matter how I feel when I set out on a walk, I always feel better by the end. If I’m tired when I start my walk, I’m rejuvenated when I finish. If I’m feeling overwhelmed with work or personal issues when I begin a walk, I am clear-headed and focused by the end. And, of course, the long-term physical benefits of moderate-impact aerobic activities like walking are well-known.
As an adult, no matter where I’ve lived – city or suburban setting, no matter the climate, I’ve always kept up my walking ritual. A daily walk, even a short one, is a must for me. I’m not one to listen to music or the news while I walk. I focus on my stride (to create a sort of natural rhythm). And I focus on my surroundings, trying to notice things that I’d miss if I were driving the same route.
I walk best alone. (Sorry, Dad.) Friends regularly invite me to join in their walking rituals, but I usually decline their offers. The benefits I derive from walking come when I’m able to think and observe in silence.
The simple act of a daily walk allows me to solve problems. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve begun a walk thinking I had a big problem to sort through, only to determine, 10 minutes in, that I’d been blowing the issue way out of proportion.
And, best of all, I regularly experience creative breakthroughs when I walk. These breakthroughs happen when I’m not even trying. The act of walking and focusing on my stride clears my head. Ideas flow naturally. Dots connect themselves.
Walk. Look. Create. It’s really that simple.