My grandfather was a walking man. Some of my earliest memories are of walks with him – exploring the campus where he taught, the streets of Chicago, the mudflats of Morro Bay, or the Elfin Forest. He’d tell me stories as we walked about his childhood or about a set of fictional characters who became as real to me as the trees or the pavement under our feet. I’m not sure if my love for long walks came from these experiences or was born into me through some sort of nomadic calling in my bloodline. One way or the other, my grandfather was a walking man. My father is a walking man. And so, I walk.
My walking habit came up in Home Community (that’s Bible Study for those of you who just got a little worried) last night. This week brought us the thoughts of the fantastic Betsy and Brian, who are quite possibly one of the world’s most adorable sets of newlyweds, and a rockstar leadership team to boot. Our topic was “Trials and Pain,” which isn’t exactly cheery, but definitely relevant, definitely important, and definitely thought provoking. Our conversation meandered its way into ideas and thoughts about coping with hard times, and I offered up my only true solution to anything, outside of unfaltering faith in God: I walk.
I walk because I fidget. I have a hard time focusing on anything sitting still, and walking occupies my body and allows my brain to relax and center. Walks are my best way to talk to God and try to listen to the answers. Years ago, when I was mid-divorce and feeling trapped in every circumstance of my life, I walked because the simple action of moving forward made me feel like I would survive. Walking makes me feel like myself, calms me down, wakes me up. I’m better walking than I am holding still.
I also like to walk with people. Conversations can be awkward in coffee shops or over dinner, shifting around and staring each other in the face. On walks, you’re looking forward, there’s less pressure to maintain eye contact and more freedom to be honest and real. People seem to listen better, process better, and speak their minds a little clearer… it’s good.
So, invitation: I’d like to walk with you, five or so blog readers. I’d like to do this more often, because I’d like to hear your stories and see what you’ll tell me when you don’t have to look me right in the eyes. Because I love your company, and because we have the luxury of being honest and vulnerable with each other, and it doesn’t get much better than that on this planet. Take me up on this. Please.