The usual EverWalk party line is CONNECT. Connect with Nature. With your community, your neighborhood, your friends, strangers strolling in the park, fellow dog walkers. Connect with your brain vis a vis recent events, whether events of your own life or of the world at large. Return home from your walk with vigorous ideas, with plans.
Yet I will say that I find it a delicious moment to head out the door on my afternoon walk with the house keys, my phone, some gum and a couple of Jolly Ranchers (green apple and cherry, please) tucked into my fanny pack. And the delicious moment comes when I hit PLAY to start the book or podcast that’s going to waft into my eager ears for the next two or three hours.
I try to make sure it’s a safe route on listening days, not one that will take a lot of street crossing at lights. A path up in the hills works best, where I can feel quite sure that no unexpected vehicle will be coming toward me while I am caught up in my story.
Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway swept me away one late afternoon. The English accents of the characters, the beautifully phrased descriptions of the trees in St. James Park, the deep sounds of Big Ben. I saw and heard and smelled and sensed all the tea cups, the flowers, the bustling street cars, the men’s hats and the long stride of Mrs. Dalloway as she dashed around town readying for her evening party. Contrary to our usual goal of walking in an uber aware state, I’m not even sure how I made it back home. I virtually didn’t see a thing, hear a bird chirp, or notice anything whatsoever about the weather or my surroundings for those particular three hours. I was in London, not Los Angeles.
I read and listen to a lot of lay cosmos non-fiction. Steven Hawking has kept me very good company for quite a few hours on my cosmos walks. Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything had me spellbound for several consecutive outings. Bryson chases answers to all the big questions: Was there nothing before the Big Bang? What were the circumstances of the evolution of civilizations? It’s a brave book but written with a simplicity that invites the reader/listener to take the journey of curiosity on a vast array of subjects within our universe. I might even listen to that one again some day.
There’s a magic, in the Once Upon a Time tradition, to have a story told to you. Your mother or father perhaps told you bedtime stories. My French maman read me all the Babar books and to this day I have a crush on that wonderfully charismatic elephant. It’s different from reading yourself, to be told a story. Just as you sit to watch a film, and you’ve made the unspoken agreement that you will go under the spell of the music, the cinematography, the story, you press PLAY for a recorded story, and from the first word, the first sound of that reader’s voice, intimate in its near-whisper into your ears, you are gone. You have decided to take the trip. The magic has begun.
I love walking my dog Teddy. I love walking with Bonnie and her dog Mister. I love walking with friends. Tess, Jane, Bonnie and I took a lovely house decorations walk one crisp evening over the holidays and we decided to do that one every year, it was so delightful. I love getting into the Nature areas of the ocean’s edge, the mountains, the parks. And I very much love walking with a friend or two down a long road to a destination.
But I will say that I get particularly enthused when I’m going out for a Listening Walk.
It’s exciting to be transported somewhere, into the lives of people living in a different time, a different place. It’s invigorating to picture the interiors and exteriors being described, to analyze the relationships that are engaging you.
Our next EverWalk book club selection is Henry David Thoreau’s Walking. It’s not so much a book as a long essay. But, since Thoreau was famous for his walks of contemplation, I’m looking forward to tripping out into my own state of self-examination on my next Listening Walk.
Happy Walking….Happy Listening!