Your Voice

Your Voice: The simple beauty of taking a walk

Walking slows life down a little, and provides time to think.

Your Voice: The simple beauty of taking a walk

For as long as I have worked, I have walked to work. Not every day, or all the time. But for the most part, I have traveled to work on foot.


In London, I lived in Camden Town, and walked the two miles or so — past Euston station and onto Woburn Place — to my office in Russell Square, a bustling hub of business. 


Further north, in the English county of Yorkshire, I lived in a small village and walked a similar distance along the River Wharfe to an office complex in a former textile mill. 


And in Vienna, Austria, I regularly strode out over the 1,000-meter-plus road, rail, and pedestrian Reichsbrücke (Imperial Bridge) that connects the city’s 22nd district to the 1st, over the River Danube.


Since arriving in Dhahran a few months back, my new walk to work takes some 45 minutes. In the mornings, I merge from Peninsula onto Rolling Hills Boulevard in near silence, before most motorists have set out. 


The novelty of birds and plant species that are new to me has not yet worn off, and it seems that sunrise and late afternoons are good times to meet Dhahran’s Arabian red foxes, which are tamer than I had imagined (and more of a sandy yellow color). Walking slows life down a little, and provides time to think.


I have many walking heroes. One of them is the author Rebecca Solnit, who has written, among other worthwhile books and essays, Wanderlust — A History of Walking. Solnit writes a lot about the pace of walking being in tune with the rhythm of the mind and body — with breathing — and about walking as a state of mind as much as a physical activity.   


As I have become older, my world has become fuller but smaller. Most of my time is taken up at work and with my kids. But walking to and from work remains a kind of daily meditation — something I look forward to — and it seems to keep me reasonably well balanced, mentally, and physically.


The following passage from Solnit’s book resonates with me, particularly: “A lone walker is both present and detached from the world around, more than an audience but less than a participant. Walking assuages or legitimizes this alienation: one is mildly disconnected because one is walking, not because one is incapable of connecting.”


Walking through the Eastern Province’s winter and into spring has been enjoyable. December’s jacket and woolly hat have become shirt-sleeves and a sun cap. At the moment, the heat is manageable. When colleagues ask me if I plan to walk through the summer, I tell them I’ll take it step by step. I’ll see how it goes, and adjust accordingly, as it is with life in general.   


Your Voice reflects the thoughts and opinions of the writer, and not necessarily those of the publication.

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