I used to not think much about walking. It was just walking. It got you from point A to point B.
If anything, I thought walking was an inconvenience because of how long it takes to actually get to B..
For instance, in the fall semester of my sophomore year, I had lab class Thursday evenings in Dewey. By the time I got out, the Redstone Express stopped running and I had to face the 30 minute trek on foot.
The long walk would make me frustrated because I would think about all the other things I could be doing if I could have gotten back to Redstone faster with the bus.
But now, I crave walking. I would gladly do that Dewey to Redstone walk every day.
The whole concept of walking changed for me when I was studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain last spring. I walked everywhere. Most days I would average seven to 10 miles.
Many European cities are built as walkable cities. Moreover, socializing happens in the streets, which equals constant walking. I learned how to factor in the time and further began to enjoy roaming the streets, wasting time strolling.
Then while I was still in Sevilla, COVID-19 hit like a bag of heavy bricks.
After a six week quarantine in Spain and a two week quarantine once I arrived back in the states, all I wanted to do was walk. To be beneath the folding sky, breathing in the fresh air, stretching my body. .
Over the summer I transcended into a pro-walking suburban mom. Most mornings before I started work for my internship, I would go on a long walk by myself.
While I walked, I would call my family or a friend, listen to music to brainstorm choreography for dance or just simply observe and listen to the world around me.
Days that I sauntered around the Burlington streets I felt more centered and vivacious especially when I walked alone. I got into a flow state where I would let my thoughts wonder and then allow my worries to slip away for the time being. I felt a stronger sense of clarity.
COVID-19 has confined us to our houses. With everything being done from home, there isn’t a need to go anywhere. We don’t have to sprint to make it to our next class on time because class is on our computers in our rooms.
Additionally, COVID-19 exacerbates Western culture’s sedentary lifestyle. My body aches from sitting and the incentive to get out and pound the pavement is mostly non-existent.
But for me, walking has been a saving grace. If I have time I’ll go on a walk around the block before or in between classes to clear my head. I also go on quick walks when I am anxious to dissociate from whatever is making me nervous.
I encourage everyone to get out there and saunter. You don’t need a dog to go on a walk, you can walk yourself! And you don’t need a destination, you can just meander! It feels kind of silly to be walking with nowhere to go but who’s going to know other than you?
You can even amble with a friend. It’s a safer way to catch up with a buddy during these times.
I truly underestimated and underappreciated the importance of walking. I never realized its simple beauty until it was taken away from me.
The pandemic lifestyle has taught me that walking is something to cherish, something that supports our well-being and to never take for granted.