I choose between three options: bike, jog, or roller skate.
Biking is the easiest one, so I always try to bike longer distances. Jogging is the most physically exhausting one, so I only jog about 4 km on average. Roller skating is neither easy nor physically exhausting for me; it’s just… scary, for a novice like me. I trip and fall over small bumps, and I can’t even go down slops on my own at all. So I skate for 4-5 km as well (usually with my dad jogging alongside me).
There’s a huge park/sports area of 15 minutes walking distance from my house. I go there every time I want to do some outdoor exercising. The park is basically a huge 4 km loop, which surrounds a huge territory of grassland and the Minister of Defense in the middle. An increasing amount of people go there every day at all times, which is nice to see. Fitness is finally getting contagious.
But I have never walked the whole loop. I see many people walking whenever I’m biking, jogging, or skating. I see them because I’m always going at a faster speed than them. I don’t walk because it doesn’t make me sweat as much. No, that’s an excuse; it’s mainly because I can’t stand the slow pace of walking.
Which is strange because I consider walking to be the most calming and therapeutic thing to do. It’s the one thing that reminds us to fully enjoy the journey, to be fully aware and present each step of the way. I started taking walks in different places and at different paces. On my way to the sports park; in another (smaller) park with fewer people; on my way to somewhere. I don’t listen to music, unlike when I’m exercising. I don’t walk with anyone; I’m my own company. I like to tune in to my senses: what do I see in the space that surrounds me? How do I feel, right now, in this moment? What (pleasant) smells do I sense that are out of the ordinary? I don’t actually say any of these things to myself (that would be plain weird). But I do make these observations and, gradually, I tune in to the environment that surrounds me.
All day every day, we are being saturated by all kinds of things. We are always checking our phones, laptops, and other screens; whether it’s for work or for leisure, it’s an inevitability in the modern age. We listen to all kinds of things – music, news, cars honking, people talking; we rarely get a chance to be alone unless we choose to be alone. But when everyone around us is doing the same thing, it’s hard to not be part of that crowd.
And before we know it, we’re in the black hole.
But when I walk… it’s as if these things, all these distractions and burdens, blur into the background. Everything that goes on around me is completely unrelated to me. People are minding their own business. I may cross paths with them, some even may glance my way if I happen to rush through with my bike, but they’re all too focused on themselves to care. They’re all too busy with their lives to notice this tiny person walking quietly by herself.
And so I open myself to what surrounds me as a whole. I acknowledge the horrible traffic that overwhelms the streets at rush hour. I observe the people that walk quickly, calmly, or slowly. I see the houses that are on my field of vision and wonder what kind of lives live within them. I listen to the music the nature sings to me. Sometimes, I pause for a mere few seconds, and am so glad that there are so many parks near me, even if some are amidst the busy streets.
What is life, if we can’t even take a moment to walk around at a steady pace? Must we always rush our lives at a speed faster than is good for us?