Typically when I want or feel the need to get some exercise, my top choice is to go for a run. I can knock out a mile in 7-10 minutes (depending on my mood, the soreness of my knee and the number of doughnuts I ate that day), work up a sweat and come home with a feeling of accomplishment. It’s quick, simple and the only thing I think about is putting one foot in front of the other.
The past few days, however, i’ve slowed it down a bit and gone for walks instead. The positive side of working in the suburbs is that during my lunch break, I can step outside and take a 20-30 minute stroll. I’ve extended this after work as well, and try to step outside just before sunset and partake in the same low-key activity.
Today I found more appreciation for these simple steps than I once had before. As I strolled through my neighborhood, filled with old houses, beautiful gardens and elegantly cracked sidewalks, a handful of sights stuck out and made me smile from ear to ear.
There was a frame made of faded yellow roses on the center of the outside front door that reminded me of the yellow frame around the looking-hole in the TV show Friends.
An old couple was straight up giddy as they leisurely made their way across the street. They reminded me of a couple of kids without a worry in the world. Right across the block a newly-engaged couple I know was walking into a favorite local restaurant.
In front of one of the many old houses with a yard covered in wild flowers was a framed black and white photo of that exact home years ago nailed to a giant tree. The writing on it was faded, but the mystery of who put that photo there and what their connection to the home was made me stare at it wide-eyed for almost a full minute.
A few doors down there was a boy who couldn’t have been older than seven or eight years old practicing his soccer kick in his front yard as he took pointers from a man who appeared to be his father.
An old man in beat up jeans and an old T-shirt lit up a cigar as he kicked his feet up in an old wicker chair; two friends threw their heads back laughing as they sipped on a glass of wine in a front yard; a young guy had his laptop set up on a small table as he Skyped who appeared to be a friend or family member.
I walked for not even thirty minutes and I swear I saw all of this. However, I also saw a girl yanking her dog down the street as she stared zombie-like down at her phone, completely unaware of the world around her. That’s not to say she wasn’t sending an urgent text message or waiting for a life-changing email. I’m the last person who could or should be making assumptions about that sort of issue.
There are important parts of life that are more easily dealt with through the means of technology. Heck, i’m typing this on my MacBook Pro and I listened to music as I walked using my iPhone. Just make sure you set aside a time and a place for the parts of your life that can’t pop up in a notification on the screen of your phone. Those are the things that help us unwind after a long day, bring balance back to our demanding lives, and ultimately give us more peace of mind than we could have ever anticipated.
Take notice to all of those common yet astounding daily details. Let them overflow and positively affect other areas of your possibly-exhausted life. Absorb that hidden gratitude the best way you know how. The truth is, no one knows how many more steps they have left, how many more hands they’ll get to hold or cigars they’ll get to light up. In my humble opinion, there can be no harm in living a life with wonder and mindfulness. So take it all in; after all, it could all be gone tomorrow.