Forward Motion

Cara - Ardmore, Pennsylvania
Entered on October 11, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
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My uncle likes to tell the story about the first time he met me, when I was only a few weeks old. I was crying when he got to my house, and neither of my parents could make me stop. He decided that I needed some fresh air, and he took me outside for a walk. I was little enough to fit snugly against his forearm, my head resting in his palm, and so he carried me this way, my face upturned towards the sky. As the story goes, I almost immediately stopped crying and fell deeply asleep, forever marking my uncle as my parent’s favorite babysitter. They all insist that it was the change of scenery that did it, but to this day I believe that what lulled me to sleep all those years ago was instead the loping motion of my uncles feet, tapping out the beat that has become familiar to me, that I have come to rely on.

I believe in walking. Not to get anywhere in particular, just to enjoy the steady, soothing rhythm of your feet hitting the ground, the feeling of your own forward motion. Walking gives you an opportunity that running doesn’t, providing you with a perfect place to work out your problems. Running is too quick an activity for any real reflection; it increases your heart rate, leaving you the opposite of relaxed. Walking allows you to really think, to turn your problems over like a pebble accidentally kicked on the sidewalk.

Walking is also the best therapy for anxiety. There is no better feeling than leaving the source of your tension-whether real or imagined- behind and stepping outside into the cool air. At first you will walk quickly, giddy with the freedom from your problem, and then, gradually, you will slow down, and start to think about how to fix it. When you return from wherever you have gone you have, if not a solution, then a new perspective on how to reach one. It’s great.

In the years after that first walk with my uncle, he, my dad and I would sometimes go for hikes on the weekends. We stopped doing it around the time I was 10, but I still remember vividly walking through Ridley State Park, trying to keep up with them but not really caring when my short legs failed to do the job. Usually my dad would wait for me, but sometimes he wouldn’t, and I would be left alone in the back, watching their grown- up legs disappear in front of me. Alone, I was free to think to myself, make up stories and watch the patterns of light as they bled through the trees. Even in my elementary school world, I had problems: petty fights or the latest math quiz that I had failed, again. I would think about these things, but they didn’t really seem to matter. When I found my dad and my uncle again, I would always be filled with an incredible sense of calm. Everything was going to be okay.

Throughout my life walking has saved me. It has given me something to do during the laziest weeks of summer as well as provided me with a convenient way to escape. But it has also given me a chance to find a better solution, to solve my own issues. It has, in a way, made me a better thinker and problem solver. Which is why I believe in the therapy of movement, going forward without really going anywhere at all. I believe in walking.