Walking is hard for me.
Ok, not the physical act of putting one foot in front of another. I can do that without a problem.
But going at a walking pace when I could be moving faster is very difficult for me. Why go slowly when you could move quicker? Why burn 100 calories walking when you could burn 200 by running? Why let your eyes leisurely move across the page of the book you are reading when you could speed read and get through twice as much content? Why take the scenic route when you could arrive at your destination an hour earlier? Why play your scales at tempo largo when you could click it up to allegro and let your fingers fly? Why adjust your morning schedule to accommodate the shuffling pace of a toddler when you could just pick them up and run your errands at double the speed?
I don’t mind slow, lazy days on the couch watching tv shows or reading books. But if I have something to accomplish I want to do it as quickly as possible. Anything worth doing is worth doing fast. Right?
Last weekend I ran a half-marathon. Within the first mile my knee started throbbing, and continued to shoot sharp pain up my leg across the following 13 miles. But I didn’t let myself walk. “I paid $75 to run. I’m not walking this thing,” I told myself. When I at last got across the finish line I could barely hobble to a shady place under a tree and collapse. My knee continued to ache for the next few days. And so, instead of hitting the pavement to bust out a few miles (and bust down a few calories) I took to the yoga mat. Slow stretching instead of quick movement. Less calories burned. Less distance covered. But my body was so much happier.
Today on the exercise plan is a walk. I won’t go very far. I won’t break a sweat. I won’t come home and feel accomplished. But I’m forcing myself to walk because my body needs the rhythm to be turned down a few notches.
I wonder if my soul might need the same thing.
In a fast-paced world with constantly changing newsfeed, nine-hundred channels to choose from, microwaves that heat in a second, cars that move 100 miles per hour, emails rapidly fired at you, and a constant need to accomplish at the core of each of our days we are bound to get injured. This speed is too much to keep up with and we might not get to the finish line in one piece if we don’t allow ourselves to walk.
I pull on my tennis shoes and head out the door. The air is a little crisp and I crunch a few leaves under my feet as I walk down the driveway. The app that tells me how fast I’m going isn’t opened today. Instead I open my eyes. I notice the people on the path and the ones in the cars that pass me. I wave to my neighbor, I look up and take in the color of autumn in the trees above me. I look down and see how my feet look on the pavement. My breath comes easy, my temperature is comfortable. There is a deer across the road. I stop to admire its fuzzy antlers. I get coffee on my walk. I hold it close and let its heat warm my body.
The thing about walking is that instead of narrowing my vision on the finish line I am able to focus on the journey as a whole. I can notice the life happening around me. I can take in the sights and smells and sounds of the world I’m living in. I am aware of more than my hurting joints and parched lips. Moving slowly allows me to be present to everything God has for me in this day.
Walking isn’t that bad, after all.