Walking is something that I’ve enjoyed for as long as I can remember. Not only is it a means to get from place to place, but it demands that time be set aside for any given trek. On weekends I enjoy heading out for an hour to 90 minutes for the fresh air, exercise, and uninterrupted podcast listening. Many years ago it was a great way to provide Nozomi with some stimulation overload. Before that, while living in Vancouver, it was the preferred alternative to public transit when time permitted. But why?
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve tried to understand why walking is something I enjoy so much, and why it’s something I encourage the boy to do on sunny days. Thinking way back to the early-80s to some really fuzzy memories, it may have something to do with exploration; not only of the physical world, but of ideas.
Young kids will stop and examine everything along a path if you let them. Nozomi is much the same way, though the length of her paths has drastically shortened since the boy joined the family. I remember running on the sidewalks of Hamilton with my parents before they divorced, and later walking with my father when it was just him and I in an apartment on the east side. Every sojourn resulted in learning something new. Even when the route had been taken a hundred times there were still new things to observe, consider, and discover. What’s not to like about this?
One of the many things I hope to share with the boy is the long walk, which my father and I would typically do twice a month. Originally this time together was out of necessity. We would need groceries, and the supermarket was a little over 2km away. We could take the bus, but it was often faster to put one leg in front of the other. The trip would take some time and that’s when my father and I would have conversations about anything and everything. I remember learning how “dry” humour worked at one point. Another time we compared our favourite teachers. Sometimes we would just walk together in silence, letting the noise of the passing cars drown out any awkwardness that might be felt when no conversation is had. Much later in life I would learn that we didn’t use the bus in order to save the $4 so that it could be put towards food, but this didn’t diminish the fun I had during these journeys.
The boy and I will not need to walk two kilometres if we need groceries, as the nearest supermarket is about 300m from here, but there are some lovely parks that we could explore on foot when he’s old enough for the trips. Driving is certainly convenient, but time well spent is time well spent. Hopefully he will enjoy our walks together as much as I’ve enjoyed those taken with my father, Nozomi, and just by myself.