Lunar Observer records upcoming dates of interest: holidays, birthdays, best day to cut hair.
This Saturday is March 4; it’s walk to work day (“March Forth”). This is a day on which, if you are able, and it’s safe, you eschew a car or bus ride and walk somewhere you need to go, whether to work or wherever. It’s okay if the walk is nice, but March Forth is not about walking for pleasure — it’s about walking as a form of locomotion. It’s about acquiring first-person proof that if you put one foot in front of the other, you’ll get there. Walking for pleasure is pleasant, by definition, and having to walk sort of sucks. It’s helpful to know both parts of this equation.
Here’s some advice for turning a slog into a mere schlep:
Try to avoid checking your watch all the time to see if you’re making good time. If you really care, make a guess before you go about how long it will take, then time yourself with a stopwatch, and check your time against your guess. Avoid looking at the clock as you go, and think of this (avoiding looking at the clock) as an exercise that’s happening at the same time as the exercise of the walk.
If you’re concerned about the major time difference between walking and driving, pretend you went to the gym to walk on the treadmill for an hour, and the gym is a half hour away both ways due to traffic. Viewed this way, a two-hour walk doesn’t waste time at all, and you get an extra hour of exercise for free.
It’s okay to pick up weird stuff you find in the street, but be aware that if you pick it up, look at it, and then put it back on the street, that’s littering, which we can agree is wrong (unless you’re littering in a rich people neighborhood, in which case it’s like “bringing the war home” — it still might be wrong, but at least there’s a debate on the subject). If you see what might be a note or a photo or something, but it’s face down on the ground, it’s okay to flip it over to see if it’s worth picking up — that’s not littering, that’s just interacting with trash. The laws are different.
If you find a playing card, you’ll probably find more than one. No one ever throws away a single playing card. Try to assemble a good hand. (The default American card game is poker.) If the card is face down, try to guess what card it is before you pick it up.
Listening to music on headphones while you walk is a good way to subjugate reality to your will, and to give the scene an emotional setting of your choice. That said, it’s even better to not listen to music, to be a part of the emotional setting of the street, and in concert with its will. But if you need power, use music.
If at all possible, avoid thinking about what you’re going to do when you get where you’re going, what you’re going to say to someone, and what you’re going to say when they respond rudely. In fact, try to avoid serious thought on any subject at all. Walking can create a rhythm that is relaxing, but it can also create a rhythm that fosters obsessive thought. Identifying and avoiding these cycles is an exercise in itself. I find that my thoughts are easier to mind if I look around as I walk rather than straight down at the ground. And if need be, I sing a little song. Even if you have a concrete problem you need to grind away at, taking a walk and not thinking about it will increase your ability to solve the problem with less effort at a slightly later time.
If you find money, and you have time to diverge from your path, walk into the wind a little bit, and maybe you’ll find where the money’s blowing from. Try to do this casually and without desire, otherwise you’ll chase the luck away. My friend Eli caught a $20 bill in the air one time doing this! Some people are good at finding money (Eli), and some aren’t, but if you never look, you never find, that’s for damn sure.
As mentioned in a previous column, it’s okay to call someone just to chat. But I recommend not talking the entire time you’re walking — quiet introspection with regular low-level distraction is the gift of the walk.