experiments in walking

I woke up this morning resolving not to drive the car today.  It’s a cryin’ shame — I’m telling you — that Americans gallavant all over the blessed country in comfortable, swanky, gas-guzzling, earth-polluting cars.  Gas prices soar; they still drive.  They say they don’t have a choice.  They can’t afford to do differently.  But they do have a choice.  Every person has a choice.  And I believe that one reason more Americans haven’t stopped driving is because it’s countercultural not to drive.  It sounds nice — walking or bicycling — but it’s easier said than done.

But I did it.  Today I walked.

I wouldn’t have had to go anywhere today.  But I remembered that it was story time at the library this morning, and I wanted to take Isaiah because he hadn’t been around many kids this week.  The library is a mile and a half away; I mapped it before I left.  It was a trip that would have taken three minutes in a car.  Boy, that sounded tempting.  But a resolution is a resolution.

When I left, my walk to the library somehow felt dangerous.  I was taking a baby out in 45-degree weather, for crying out loud.  And I’m not used to walking that far.  Who knew what dangers we would encounter along the way?  I’m not kidding.  Thoughts like that go through your mind when you go against the flow.  But I bundled Isaiah up, and he slept the whole way.

I felt so free.  I just kept walking and walking, and the closer I got the library, the better I felt.  Cars flew past me at 40 or 50 miles per hour, and I had chosen something better.  I didn’t have to be in a hurry.  I could notice things on that route I had never noticed before.  When you walk, you notice how the brick walls surrounding subdivisions are built.  (They’re not solid brick; they’re hollow.  They look good for the drivers.)  You notice how McDonald’s smells from the outside. (Not good.)  You notice what the weather is like.  You smell the exhaust from cars.  You notice — for the first time all day — that you’re actually thinking about something besides what is right before your eyes.  You notice how fast everyone else is going.

There was one other pedestrian out this morning.  A jogger.  That’s all.  One person.  And she wasn’t even running to get anywhere.  It was just me.

When I got to the library, I pranced in and felt like celebrating.  We had done it — Isaiah and I.  The biggest problem was that my nose started dripping, but, I’ve got to tell you, it was worth it.

Isaiah woke up just before story time, and he loved the excitement.  He learned to pat his head and turn in circles when we sang songs.  He got to take three books home with him.  He ate Cheerios all the way back to the house.  When we got inside, his cheeks were flushed from the cold.

“We did it, Isaiah!” I told him.  I felt like we had just broken a world record.  Like Isaiah was going to grow up a better person because we walked places.

I know now we can walk to the grocery store together, load up the stroller with our bags, and learn more about the neighborhood we live in.  The great thing is that the grocery store is even closer than the library.

I believe that we would be a more intellectually and physically healthy society if we walked where we could.  I believe local, independent businesses would thrive.  I believe we would take better care of public places, and the earth could heal from some of its pollution.  We would be a more personable, genuine people, more aware of art and literature and the spiritual realm.

Just try it yourself.  See if I’m not right.

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    • Kyle
    • January 17th, 2008

    Hoo rah!

    • Betsy
    • January 17th, 2008

    This is inspiring!

  1. Confessions of me: I live about 3/4 of a mile from where I work and I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve walked it. I always tell myself it’s too hot, or too cold, or I don’t have time. Truth is – I’m lazy.

    However, I know exactly that feeling your talking about when you do walk!

    I love your inspiring thoughtfulness.

  2. doh! You can’t delete comments and I noticed a typo. 😦

    How embarrassing. I usually triple check my grammar on your blog. 🙂

    • clbeyer
    • January 17th, 2008

    Man, you better be careful, Luke. If you weren’t my most frequent commenter, I might block you for your disastrous grammar. 😉

    Seriously, I hope you don’t feel self-conscious about what you write on here. Even though I like to preach about correct punctuation and the like, I’m really just crossing my fingers that someone isn’t coming along, editing all my posts and comments. That would be embarrassing, considering I’m the one who acted like a know-it-all.

    As for your irresponsible use of fuel, I hope my “inspiring thoughtfulness” will just provoke you to change your ways.

  3. Good for you!! You are inspiring! I always think I should walk, but rarely do, and especially now that I have two little ones. How would that work? I guess maybe I’d just have to allow more time — ack!

    • matches
    • January 22nd, 2008

    thank you for this post. thank you so much for it. i love walking. i especially love walking at night in the winter. i’ve been stopped twice by police this last year because they thought i was up to something. if my back hurts i walk for an hour and i’m healed. if i’m depressed i walk for 30 minutes and i’m healed. if i’m feeling trapped i walk around the block and i’m healed. it feels soo good. foot in front of foot. walking.

    i have a baby in the house, so my walking time has been cut short due to plain exhaustion. but soon i shall walk again!

    • clbeyer
    • January 22nd, 2008

    matches, thanks for giving me even more reasons to walk — just for the sheer enjoyment of walking and healing, not for exercise or anything else.

    And boy, what a world we live in, where we’re deemed suspicious for walking at night!

    • karmenl
    • January 22nd, 2008

    Thanks for visiting my blog! I don’t know if you’ll find your way back to the particular post that you commented or not. I thought I’d leave a comment here as well…just in case. I’m reading a great book right now –the Gospel According to Moses…What my Jewish Friends Taught Me About Jesus. It is rich! I love learning about Judiaism, thus Girl Meets God. You’ll love the book. It’s a fast read.

  4. I love this post! I think I might even try walking to the store this week — I’m always worried there’s no sidewalk for my bulky stroller. Pathetic, I know. Thanks for the inspiration! We miss you, my friend.

    • Tami
    • February 8th, 2008

    Carrie, I just wanted to say 3 things:
    1) thanks for the update on Jessica this week-it was truly an answer to my recent prayers that someone who loves the Lord is still in her life

    2) it was a pleasure helping you find your phone and subsequently chatting with you!

    3) I dropped one of our cars off for servicing this week and walked home. It was about a mile and I observed our neighborhood from new eyes and as well. It was invigorating, though I must admit I was thanking God that it was a nice winter day! It reminded me of the awesome days of K-State and walking to campus. Last Saturday Dan rode the bus to the station downtown and walked the remainder of the distance to lab. He said it was fun and also made him reminisce his U of M days. I know limited parking plays a role in it, but why can’t we always be poor enough to enjoy free walking!!

    • clbeyer
    • February 8th, 2008

    Tami,
    I loved chatting with you yesterday! And yes, thank you for helping me find my phone! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your walking stories. That’s just the thing I need to hear to keep me motivated.

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