Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.
Oh, Soren, you make my heart sing . . . what a nice thought from a guy whose most well known work is Fear and Trembling.
Well, I’m taking the advice of Existentialism’s papa, and I’m walking around a lot these days. At least I think I’m walking. And if I think I’m walking, then I probably am.
I’m hoofing it because the knees don’t take too kindly to running anymore. Running around in circles or going nowhere on a treadmill kept me busy for a number of years. But all those miles haven’t brought me any closer to deep and soulful insight. And they haven’t taken me any farther away from the things I’d like to avoid.
So I’ll save a couple hundred bucks on running shoes each year.
Another reason I'm walking is that I tripped over February awhile back and found myself at the beginning of March with no ice on the lake and a blue sky overhead. Even though it was only a couple degrees above freezing today, the sun was shining and I was hatless and I had that school kid feeling that spring wasn’t too far away.
It helped that the melting snow was forming puddles on the sunniest of the sidewalks and the geese at North Pond were bending their long necks toward tufts of muddy grass that had been uncovered in the thaw.
Mostly, though, I’m walking for the exercise. And for the view.
A guy like me can burn off over a hundred calories for each mile of the stroll up Michigan Avenue. Experimentation over the past week or so has shown me that a leisurely pace will get you a green light all the way from Jackson to the Water Tower. You try to push the pace too hard, and you’ll get a red light about every third intersection.
The things you can see while walking, though, those are important, too. Just today, on my walk from Jackson to the Lincoln Park Zoo, I saw a greyhound with an argyle sweater and little purple boots.
I’m guessing that at doggie school he gets bullied.
On Huron I saw a carriage driver pat his horse on the muzzle and feed him a carrot. It’s difficult to chew on a carrot with a bit in one’s mouth. I never realized how difficult before. Dobbin tossed his head as I passed and his sad horse eyes instant messaged . . . What are YOU looking at?
In the long walk from downtown all the way to the zoo I saw exactly one woman in a fur coat. Dark. Ankle length. The tall gal wearing it didn’t look like she was worried about medical insurance. In fact, she didn’t look like she was worried about much of anything. A dysfunctional Congress wasn’t going to stop her from leading the parade into Neiman Marcus.
Funny, five years ago you couldn’t have walked ten feet down the Mag Mile without seeing a pelted dolly or two. Hard times? Democrats in charge? Fear that naked P.E.T.A. volunteers will set them on fire? It would be fun to find out.
As I entered the protective canopy alongside what used to be Phillip Maher’s lovely Farwell Building before the Ritz-Carlton Residence folks killed and skinned it, an elderly woman heading my way stopped to adjust her scarf. In the process her three-pronged walker capsized. It seemed no big deal to take a few steps toward her side of the walkway and upright it for her. She seemed appreciative.
It’s the kind of thing you see people doing in Chicago all the time. It’s a good city with big-hearted people. The current President is one of us, good and big-hearted. He would have picked that frail woman’s three-pronged walker up, too, although he would have gotten to it before I did.
He knows what any compassionate citizen of this great country must surely know. He knows that there are folks who, through no fault of their own, need some help. In the last analysis, a few steps out of our way won’t break the bank. That's the way we do it in the Windy City.
With that in mind, I’ll just be walking on.