Almost every day, I take a morning walk. Nothing heroic, just 30 minutes and just under 2 miles. I started this habit a few months ago, and I’ve never looked back. I may do it later in the morning now that cooler weather is approaching, but I will still do it. I am committed. My morning walk is good for my health and my sanity, and therefore, my family.
(More on how I started this new habit in a separate post…I have much to say about that.)
The structure of my morning walk
Most of the time, my morning walk is an exercise in solitude. I enjoy being alone, so I don’t mind that at all. I can think my thoughts, let them come and go, focus on what I want to instead of whatever “must-do” is calling for my attention, as it often is at home.
I try to remind myself at the beginning of my walk to look around, breathe in, and think of everything I have to be thankful for. I’ve heard it said that gratitude is a magic emotion, giving way to more and more good and positive emotions, to the point that we are actually transformed by it. Gratitude is something I have to practice, because it doesn’t come naturally to me, even if I think it should. I think a lot of us find that to be true. Being mindful of gratitude on my morning walk helps me to practice it almost daily. Another win.
Sometimes, about halfway through my walk, I’ll turn on a podcast of some sort, a news update, a blog challenge, or even a murder mystery. Something to keep me informed, help with my work, or otherwise engage my interest until the walk brings me back home. It’s me time, and I savor it.
An unexpected visit
A couple of weeks ago, maybe on the weekend, the kids were out of school, and I was taking my walk a little later than usual. I’d been working on a post, The Worry Song, and was listening to an interview about childhood anxiety, which I wanted to hear in its entirety before I recommended it. I was passing through a narrow path to a wide open stretch, which leads to a major thoroughfare in our neighborhood. And up ahead, I noticed a woman walking with her dog.
My first thought was, maybe I should turn off the interview so as not to bother her. I was gaining ground on her an inch at a time and didn’t want to encroach on her peace and quiet. It’s good to pay attention to these things.
She seemed to slow down a little, and I thought she might want me to pass. But as I got closer, she said something to me that I truly didn’t expect. “I thought since we were walking the same path,” she said, “maybe we could walk together. Would that be okay with you?”
And of course, it was. Isn’t that a beautiful thing to ask? Why wouldn’t I spend time with a neighbor while walking the same path? But we rarely ever do.
Her name was Robin
She was probably ten years my elder, maybe more. She was clearly very fit. She’d injured her knee, she told me, and could no longer run. But she was still active, walking her beautiful Weimaraner, Dillon.
I recognized her, I said, and her dog. I had seen them before walking around the lake, and she’d stopped so my kids could pet Dillon. When I mentioned the kids, she remembered seeing me before, too. “My name is Robin,” she said. “I’m Ann,” I responded.
That was about all the conversation we had time for before we arrived at my turn toward home. It was a small gesture, a brief conversation, but it was also profound, a countercultural act of the very best kind.
My morning walk, with Robin
I’ve thought a lot about Robin since then. I wonder if she lives alone or has a partner in this life. Whether she has friends and family to talk to and share holidays. I’m often so full of my children’s energy and needs that I crave time to myself. And I rarely think about those who are in the opposite boat, in need of company or companionship. That may or may not describe Robin, but her unlikely invitation got me thinking.
I hope I run into Robin again. I’m so impressed by her offer, to simply walk together. Given another opportunity, I’ll ask her to walk with me, maybe for a little longer this time. And I’ll turn off my podcast, soak in her company, and be grateful.