I recently started to learn how to walk. Yes, after 23 years, I have finally begun to understand how to walk! And no, I’m not recovering from any injuries or have been struggling with mobility, etc. It’s a lot more complicated than most people seem to think, at least more than I ever though it was. It’s something I am getting better at and am learning “step by step”. (Ha, get it?)
I have always been a fast paced walker. I like to get to the next place to either keep doing whatever action I am doing, or I want to start the next. Everything is fast paced and moving around me, so I need to be moving as well. Time is money after all and the more things I can get done, the better off I will be. I even thought that people who walked slowly were lazy or “didn’t have anything better to do.”
Picture this: it’s downtown Chicago in the autumn. The trees around Millennium Park have turned red and gold, and the stores down Michigan Ave have begun their holiday advertising. People are bustling in the streets for what may be the last time before the weather gets icy. They’re walking side-by-side with their Starbucks in hand along the wide pathways between ornate buildings. Some people are rushing to get on the red line before the next train while others are gawking at the cloud peaking architecture or reading about the new exhibit in the Art Institute.
I’m walking between groups, purse clutched to my hip and eyes forward. I’m walking briskly with google maps in one hand, trying to find a restaurant my coworker suggested to me. Passing people on the left and right, my only goal is to follow the steps Google has placed out for me. I even get a little aggravated as a group of people stop in the middle of the sidewalk to take a selfie. I don’t have any time constraints, but I want to get to my destination. I want to try this famous chicken my coworker spoke so highly of and bring back samples for my roommates to try. Is that too much to ask?
I finally get to the restaurant and for a couple minutes as I stand in line to wait, I feel calm- for the first time, peaceful. My number is called and I take our food to go; objective complete and satisfied. Now I have a new destination and no time to waste. I rush out the glass door with the heavenly scent of fried chicken behind me. I have a new destination and I have to make it there as quick as possible..
I have many regrets for walking in this manner. I have lived in, and visited many beautiful places. When people ask me how it was, I often have to think real hard on the details. I can give times and places and of course the major memories always stick. You know, those picturesque moments or the times when you actually did just stop, and see everything. But what have I missed? The world is a beautiful place. Whether it’s the articulate, man-made architecture of the massive buildings or the vibrant colors of the trees dancing against the sky, there is beauty everywhere. It is here to be recognized and enjoyed.
I do walk quickly as I have many goals and their’s a lot I want to do. I want to see as many places as possible so the more ground I cover, the better. I’m always going to be that way because that is who I am. That is the mindset I have put myself in. Luckily for us, we have been made to be adaptive, to learn how to change. So slowly put surely, I am learning to relax my flighty pace.
Now I don’t know what side of the spectrum you lie on; the fast-paced, “time is money” or the relaxed, “enjoy the roses” side, but let me tell you, there is time for both. It is important to make the time you have meaningful. It’s important to listen, breath, and actually see what is around you. I’m learning to walk again, and it has never been more beautiful.