April 10th, 2006


Walking the Walk

Tonight I walked. It got up to 70° F today, and I have not walked nearly as much as I would like lately, so when I got out of work at 8 p.m., I began walking north. It was the first time I’d walked after work (by which I mean a serious, steady, non-stop walk) in the better part of a year, I’m sorry to say. My strategy, as usual, was to stay close to the bus line that takes me within 2 blocks of home, so that whenever I get tired, I can just take the bus the rest of the way.

I’ve been doing this for enough years that I’ve identified a few important milestones. First, if I can’t make it from my job in the heart of the Loop to at least North Avenue, then I really need to feel crappy about it, because it means that I’m in truly pathetic shape! If I’m doing well, I can make it up to at least Fullerton. After that, the next important milestone is Irving Park, because if I make it that far, I tell myself that I have to keep pushing and walk all the way home to Bryn Mawr Avenue, which even at a decent pace takes around 3 hours. I’ve only walked the whole distance about 3 times, and everything has to be right for that to happen – I have to be in good walking shape, it can’t be too hot or too cold, and oh, probably the phase of the moon plays into it as well. For you non-Chicagoans, I’m sorry I can’t quote distances to you, but if you really care to, you can always look up these streets on Mapquest!

So where did I bail out and get on the bus tonight? North Avenue, that’s where. If you re-check the above paragraph, you’ll know where I stand. But it was pretty much what I expected. And I’ve got to tell you, it was a wonderful night for a stroll. The route I take goes through some pretty neighborhoods, past some swanky restaurants and hot spots, and even past some lovely parks. And there’s the people watching as well, which never gets old!

There is another benefit to walking for me, and it’s a little trickier to explain. After I’ve been walking for a while, my mind begins to purge and expand. Sometimes, the purging is emotional, and the feelings can be surprisingly intense. Sometimes, it takes the form of a burst of creativity, and I’ll find myself composing vivid lyrics and essays in my head as I go along. I suppose this is all the result of endorphins being released, or toxins being processed, or some such thing, but I haven’t studied the subject enough to really know. And beyond a certain curiosity about it all, the explanation isn't nearly as important as the effect. What matters is that it’s good for my body, it makes me feel good, and it makes me create. The fact is, one of the most powerful truths in my life is that I’m much happier when I’m being creative. So if the weather and my resolve both hold, I should be doing more of this in the weeks and months to come!
  • Current Music
    25 Miles - Edwin Starr