A Joy, An Adventure, A Walk
- Published on November 18, 2020
By Robert L. Cain, Copyright 2020
Boredom had set into my four-year-old brain. My mother, father, and I were moving into a house in Burns, Oregon. Well, my parents were, with me in the way. What with all that adult activity I got bored quickly. Across the street from the new house sat an expanse of sagebrush and high desert that went on farther than I could see and begged my insatiably curious, four-year-old brain to be explored. Of course I went to see what I could see. Then it got dark and I couldn’t see where I had come from. Maybe it was the sagebrush that was head high or just the dark. Now what to do? I spotted a house with a light on and knocked on the door. I told them I was lost and my dad worked at Penney’s. My parents came to fetch me. I don’t remember what reprimand awaited me, but mostly my parents were relieved I didn’t get bitten by a rattlesnake or eaten by a hungry coyote.
That was only my second exploration that I know about. I may have explored other times before that and have satisfied my curiosity without having to knock on a stranger’s door. Thinking back, that adventure set me off on a lifetime of adventures and explorations in walking.
My explorations have gotten me into difficulty more than once in the decades since then, but most often they resulted in joy and inspiration. Almost all those explorations have been on foot since that is my preferred method of travel. All were treasured adventures.
“Every walk is a new adventure.”—The Book of Walking
Adventure: “A remarkable or unexpected event, or series of events, in which a person participates as a result of chance; a novel or exciting experience.” –Oxford English Dictionary
My walks provide discovery that’s more than physical. They often reward me with unexpected events such as mental or psychic discovery. I may come up with an idea, solve a problem, or think of a place I want to discover next. The inspirations of a walk have been limitless so far. Best of all, they involve far more than just discovery: they are meditative, energizing, fun, competitive (with myself), and awaited with eager anticipation.
Compare me to the “walk-ecstatic dog” of Harold Munro’s poem, “Dog.” I don’t dance around breathlessly, leash in mouth, yipping with excitement. Well, not usually. But there’s ecstasy to a walk just the same—if you let it. That’s what I look forward to with every walk, and most times it works.
Think of it as a gift I can give myself every day. Think of it as a new adventure, an anticipation of seeing new things, of having new experiences, of enjoying the sunshine, the breezes, and clouds dancing in the sky, of hearing the birds singing and warning each other of my presence. The benefits? Innumerable. Experience them for yourself, and you will appreciate the adventures, the rewards, and the joys.
“Guilt is a falsehearted, perfidious motivator.”—The Book of Walking
I don’t walk for exercise. If I did, I would miss out on so many joys, so much pleasure, so much anticipation, myriads of new things, all those new places, and the adventures. Walking for exercise just spoils it. I wouldn’t dare stop lest it interrupt the exercise. People with exercise trackers such as Fitbit, feel guilty as the devices report that they haven’t exercised enough, burned enough calories, kept their heart rate high enough, inhaled sufficient oxygen, and walked “fast” enough. Oh, the guilt.
Think about guilt. It’s a negative, demoralizing emotion. Negative emotions keep people from achieving what they want. People beat themselves up over and over, but nothing changes. Sure, they’d like to walk but they let the step counter and Fitbit rule their lives and tell them they aren’t “good enough,” when in fact they’re plenty good. They’re just focusing in the wrong direction, a self-defeating direction. Take the exercise piece out of walking and replace it with the many ways to simply enjoy a walk, and walking takes on an entirely different appeal, one that can make every walk a joy, rewarding, something to look forward to.
It’s not their fault that they feel guilty because just about everything we see in articles, TV shows, books, and videos pushes exercise as the only reason for walking. They think, “Go big or stay home.” No reason for that. A walk around the block can be every bit as rewarding as a five-mile hike if you let it. You forget about any guilt for not having done “enough,” whatever “enough” is.
Stop thinking of a walk as exercise and start thinking of it as enjoyment. Forget all those articles, videos, books, and presentations that tout exercise. The exercise will take care of itself if you just lace up your walking shoes, set foot out the door, and relish the walk itself.
“Curiosity could conceivably get you in trouble, but the satisfaction of what you discover makes it memorable.”—The Book of Walking
I created a 30-day walking plan that provides a reason to go for a walk every day, but which has nothing to do with exercise. Instead, each day describes one of the many different things we can do on a walk that make it memorable and remarkable. I conceived that walking plan on a walk, by the way.
I will never give up the uncountable sights and adventures that await me on my walks no matter if walking in nature (which has its own additional advantages), on city streets with numerous urban sights, or even in a mall. And I will never feel guilty about not walking enough or without exercise intention. A walk is what you decide it’s to be.
The Book of Walking: An exploration of the many adventures of a walk explains what I have learned about the joys and adventures of a walk and offers descriptions of and ideas for walks that make setting foot out the door a joy, an adventure, a walk. Available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08BDDP3KC.