What’s the best way to get from A to B?

Transportation5_sadiefavour
There are endless options, but nothing will ever beat your own two feet.

A lot of people I interact with view walking as a chore. Perhaps I walk out of necessity — I don’t own a car, I can’t bike in the winter, and I care deeply about reducing my fossil fuel emissions. It could also be the model set by my mom — walking everywhere she possibly could. Whatever the reason, I find walking to be one of the most pleasurable activities in life.

Although I do understand the perspectives that many people hold of walking as tiresome to the legs, a monotonous and slow method of transportation, I choose to focus on the world around me, and walking is the best medium for it. Walking allows me to move to my destination at the pace of the other earthlings around me. I also get to “walk a mile in their shoes,” as all other species on this Earth move around solely by using their body. When I walk, I have the time and patience to say “hi” to the squirrels, the trees, the person moving by me. 

I have the ability to notice the minuscule bugs moving around on the sidewalk or hiding themselves in the grass, who would normally find themselves squished by car or bike tires. When I walk I create a connection with the place. I ground myself into my body and feel my feet hitting the ground, feel the air form around me, notice the trees, houses, squirrels, people, parks, etc. that my eyes are taking in. I realize: “I live in Northfield. My feet are walking down Ole Avenue at 10:43 a.m. This is my home. This is the space my body inhabits. I can explore here. This is where I am at this moment in this big world. My body is taking me across this Earth and I have control over it. This is wonderful.” Walking generates a space for me to be existential and present at the same time. 

Walking also creates intentional time where I can tap into what is going on in my mind. I realize that I can control the thoughts that are flowing around in my head. Once I remember this, I flow with gratitude. I recognize that I am so thankful for my legs’ ability to put one foot in front of the other, I recognize that I am so thankful for the infrastructure that was laid down that provides me a pleasant walking trail, I recognize that I am so thankful for the world around me that greets me every morning. Often I choose to walk into downtown Northfield and delight in the 20 to 30 minute stroll, for me this is a form of meditation and self-love. 

I will be honest, I didn’t always see walking as a form of meditation. I used to see it as a chore as well. I complained to my mom when she said we were walking to the restaurant for dinner or that we parked five minutes away from the grocery store and we had to walk the rest of the way. It wasn’t until I attended a meditation retreat in Costa Rica last year that I realized I could actually enjoy walking if I was present in every step I took. I changed my mindset from thinking of walking as a means to a destination, to thinking of walking as the destination itself.

Walking requires one to use up energy that is stored in the body and release it into the big beautiful world as heat. What many don’t realize — as they are traversing our Earth looking for their place — is that our big beautiful world is giving us energy back every single second in the form of love, and walking lets us best open our eyes and see it.

 

schill5@stolaf.edu

Sophia Schillinger is from Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Her major is gender and sexuality studies.

 

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