I have come to realize that there is something completely magical about the simple and cleansing act of going on a walk.
I have known this before now, in the way everyone knows—if I am sad or lonely or in a funk I need only to get myself out the door, into the elements, one foot in front of the other, and voilá—a head cleared, a mood restored.
It is the kind of advice I have imagined giving to a future son or daughter someday, after they have grown and moved out of the house, when they are pouring their heart out to me over the phone because of some seemingly unbearable situation—Go put your shoes on and walk around the block I’ll say, knowing that once they have walked around the block they will almost surely begin to feel their thoughts detangling and their emotions evening out, and will find it easy and necessary to go another block.
But what I have not known until now, the real game changer, is that a walk practiced in a similar way each day, out of routine rather than desperation, turns into a ritual—which can elevate a walk from an important thing to a life changing thing.
As someone who has found it difficult on more than one occasion to remove my body from its place on the sofa just to change out of my pajamas, it is remarkable that I am before you now, declaring my devotion for the ritual of a morning walk.
Ritual smitchual, I would have said at one time. Coffee on the couch is the only morning ritual worth paying any mind. And yet, I didn’t even have to give up that ritual to gain this one. I simply added the walking after the coffee lounging. And the two combined together make a fine team indeed. I dare say you could even switch up the sequence and walk before the coffee if it suits you—or walk at an entirely different time of day altogether.
Meryl and I take our walk in the morning, after coffee, each day without fail, because she has some anxiety issues that we have been dealing with for the past year and we were told by a pet behaviorist that it would be pointless to continue any treatment without establishing a morning walk routine (More specifically: an hour long walk each morning, plus an hour in the afternoon—it being imperitive that the morning walk in particular never be skipped). I had resisted walking Meryl daily before that moment. I had known it was something I should be doing, but I let our large yard and a tennis ball replace the walk most days, missing the fact that the walk is not about exercise but about the comfort and discipline of routine. If I hadn’t been told to do it by someone else, I may not have ever decided to partake in such a regimen.
Now I find our daily walks as important a routine for me as for Meryl. Maybe one day I can explain why. Just know—the difficult things are the things worth doing. I find this to be very true, very regularly.