When the track season started, I wanted my mom to pick me up every day, but she had other things to do at 4:3o weekday afternoons. I resigned myself to toting my backpack and clarinet the two and a half miles to my house from the school. At first, it was tedious: not a soul in sight, no cell phone to talk into, no iPod to keep me preoccupied. But after about a week, I began to enjoy my time alone. I began composing poetry in my head. I took to watching bird flight patterns. I studied the twigs on trees as I made my daily march past. Sure it was cold and nippy, but it was worth it. I believe in taking a walk.
Before track season, I would walk with my brothers and our dog around the neighborhood. Ostensibly, we did this to get some exercise for us and the dog. Really, we did it so that we could talk. We would gripe about how our day, discuss ideas for the books we were writing, or giggle over a joke one of us had heard in class. Individually, these memories aren’t special, just daily routine. But collectively, they are some of my fondest.
I believe being out in the great wide open is a cleansing experience. I get to let off steam that accumulated over the day and relax my body and, especially, my mind. It’s so easy to get lost in today’s world of “Hurry, don’t miss the bus!” and “Did you turn in your math homework from Thursday?” and to forget myself along with hopes and desires. I plod along on the road of life, not noticing where I’m going or who’s beside me. I do not believe life was meant to be that way. Life should welcome you like the sun coming over the mountains and entice you like the scent of fresh cookies in the kitchen downstairs. This is why I believe in taking a walk. Walks bring me back to reality, to what life was meant to be.
I remember one walk in particular. I must have been about four or five, not quite in kindergarten. Mom and I went to a little nature reserve in the middle of Boise. I remember running up the trail ahead of her, impatient to be somewhere else. Then a duck called in the cattails behind me. I scurried back and would have jumped in to find it before Mom caught me. I remember the butterflies and how annoyed at being pulled away from Sesame Street to be in the outdoors I was before I saw them. They fascinated me. I can almost still see them, lazily flitting around like leaves in August.
Now, I welcome the chance to walk, to be out in God’s nature, to breathe fresh air off the mountains, to sing to myself on my way. When I say that I believe in taking a walk, I mean I believe in doing those things, in taking a break. It’s like poking your head out above the clouds. You lose sight of the humdrum world and gain sight of a more celestial, creative one. I believe in living life, being fascinated by butterflies, doubling back to see the duck, griping about a rotten day, letting go, and taking a walk.