Why I Choose To Walk Alone
“The only way to understand a land is to walk it. The only way to drink in its real meaning is to keep it firmly beneath one’s feet… Only the walker can form the wider view” Sinclair McKay
I have always enjoyed walking
During the five years I lived in New York City, I covered almost every square inch of that city by foot. If the weather was bad, or I had far to go, I would take the subway or a bus which still required a bit of walking. For such a busy place, walking alone gave me a sense of solitude. When I moved to the suburbs and eventually to the country, I still used walking alone as my way to recharge. The scenery was different, but the effect was the same.
When you walk alone, you have so many choices like how fast you move, where you go and what kind of experience you want to have. You don’t have to talk. You can wear headphones and tune out the world if you chose. Walking solo offers spontaneity. You can grab a coffee, watch a street performer, chat with a stranger, or deviate through a neighborhood or park just because. You can go into a thrift shop (my favorite thing!) or a pet store and snuggle with puppies as long as you’d like and not worry about wasting someone else’s time.
You can do all these things with a friend, but your experience will be different. You will think of the other person. You will want to interact and while that may enhance your experience in some ways, it will not provide the heightened awareness, lack of awareness (if you zone out) and the freedom you have while alone.
If you travel with another person, obviously you’ll stick together. I am married and would never say “Honey, I’ll see you later!” during our vacation together. Experiencing new environments with another person is exciting, rewarding and safer sometimes. I am not suggesting you ditch your friends and do it alone. But I think that carving out time in your week and your life to be by yourself is therapeutic. Why not do it walking?
Over the years, walking has given me clarity
It has also given me wisdom, compassion, connection and escape. I have walked to think and have walked to escape my thoughts. The simple act of putting one foot in front of the other has kept me in shape but has also helped me to grow as a person. I have found the freedom experienced through my solo jaunts have given me strength. No matter how bad things get, I can walk.
You may find other ways to recharge. Practicing yoga and meditation are effective ways to reduce anxiety, calm the mind and move past limiting beliefs. More strenuous forms of exercise may help you blow off steam and release those feel-good hormones. But these activities require preparation and effort. My topic today is about the easiest and most natural thing to do: walk!
Below are five excuses you can use to walk alone:
- Leave for work early. Allow time before starting your day to walk. Stop in a neighborhood, a park or wherever is convenient along the way and go! If you’re not a morning person, do it at lunch or after work. For me, I don’t always have time at lunch. After work, I may be tired or just want to get home. The mornings are a sure thing.
- Use your dog as an excuse. Pets don’t take away from your experience of solitude. In fact, they are in their own sniffy, smelly world and don’t care if your thoughts don’t involve them. “Fido has to go out” is a fantastic excuse to do it alone.
- You have some errands to run. You do! And along the way, why not squeeze in a quick walk? You will be a better mom, dad, spouse, friend or superhero when you get back because you had a few minutes to yourself.
- You have started a fitness routine. You have to walk three times a week for 30 minutes at a fast pace (insinuating no chit-chat). You’ll be back! And when you do, you’ll feel better mentally and physically for not breaking your commitment to yourself to improve your health.
- You want to be outside. In order to work through some things in your head you need: some fresh air, time alone, inspiration, exercise whatever. If your friend or spouse want to join this time, great! Just find another spot in the day or week to walk or be by yourself.
Solitude gives us the time and space to reboot and unwind. With our smart phones, smart watches and other smart devices we are constantly “on”. I don’t know about you, but being outside, moving, and not being exposed to electronics recharges me. I encourage you to recharge at least a couple times a week.
Why not try walking? Alone.