Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day, I walk myself into a state of well-being & walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, & the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. Thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.—Soren Kierkegaard, Danish existential philosopher
I want to walk every day, but I usually walk on Wednesdays with my friend, Phyllis. Fifteen years ago we started this ritual.
Let me tell you about her. She is the most disciplined person I know. She is athletic and is in amazing shape. Every day she walks her dog, Lucy: long walks. Throughout her week she plays pickle ball, swims, and works out at the gym. I think of this as one of her superpowers. So, of course, she is the one who suggested we meet on Wednesdays, eat a quick lunch and then do a fast, long walk.
My athletic profile is quite different. I come from an athletic family, my parents, my brothers and sister all played organized sports throughout their lives. Me, not so much. As a child I learned to ice skate and in high school started downhill skiing. My siblings tease me that I chose these because they involve wearing cute outfits and do not involve a lot of sweating. There is some truth to this assessment.
I have learned so much from Phyllis about moving my body and finding the way to work it into my life. Both of us are therapists so we walk on Wednesdays in a break between our 11:00 clients and the 4:00 clients. During the walk we process everything that happens in our lives that needs processing. We walk fast but not so fast that we can’t talk. Like the Kierkegaard quote says, I’ve learned that I can walk my way through everything: deaths of those I love, illness; mine and others, aches and pains, suffering and
joy — all of it.
A very significant learning for me is that it’s a good idea to choose people to spend your life with that are better at something than you are. Phyllis and I encourage each other to become our best selves. And we surely stand with each other when we are not able to be our best selves. I am quite sure I would not have hiked to the top of Old Rag Mountain, or through a wide swath of northern Spain or even the Billy Goat Trail along the Potomac River if Phyllis hadn’t invited me to join her.
Friends who invite us to “function up” make life better. Just because I’m not naturally inclined to move my body with gusto on a regular basis doesn’t mean I cannot learn how to do it. My preference for how I spend my time outside of work will always be painting, writing, and singing and yet, I now can add walking, yoga, and hiking. For these, I am most grateful to Phyllis.