("It's a Man's World" plays continuously. Begins first listen to the completed 45 minutes of the Black Moon mix)
It seems like that, as far back as I can remember, I've been a walker, but that's not necessarily true. It's probably been a good three or three and a half years. I began just making the simple walk from home to work, back to home for lunch, back to work after lunch and back home after work. That was a total of two miles a day at my old house. I don't even remember why I started. I think that, firstly, that's when the gas prices started creeping the excrutiating level and I was fed up about that. Secondly, I was topping 240 pounds of stupid and thought I needed to be hard on myself for the years I "took it easy." And, lastly, I remember thinking that it was a little silly to drive a half mile to work. Especially when some cats even in the Yellow, drive fifteen or twenty miles to work. Since I live close, might as well walk. It was part protest, part personal and part practical. If it was just one of those and only one, I probably would've stopped by now. I remember one day, as stubborn as I had become about walking instead of taking a ride, I get a call from Brinks Security saying that our alarm was going off and instead of seeking a ride to take me home, I jogged with a thirty pound backpack on my back. You could say that's when I knew I had become committed.
I made that walk so many times. I think I figured that, over the course of a year, I probably walked from here to Albuquerque and, to make it more interesting, I started doing so with a backpack to give resistance and weight--to make the burden of walking even more undesireable. See how committed I was, I suppose. I loaded that backpack with books about jazz, baseball, dictionaries--anything that was of significant weight. To date, I've never stopped wearing the backpack. It's like my security blanket. And, yes, it still weighs a ton even though the only thing I ever put in and take out daily is my wallet and phone. Everything else is purely weight.
Then we moved.
We moved about a mile and a half away from my work. I figured if I walked a half mile in ten minutes, that a mile and a half would take only a half hour. Now, a half hour scurry for lunch would mean only twenty to twenty-five minutes for lunch. Probably not a bad thing. Less time to eat, less eating. It would mean, however, that I would have to drive back after lunch. So I began starting from the house at 7:30 in the morning and would walk home for lunch and then drive back after a short time at the house. And it's been almost a religious practice for the last two years or so. It's 3,557 steps from my front door to the lobby door at work. On good days, I can do that walk in 22 minutes.
I never leave home without music. I prefer hip hop from 1991-1993. I think it's best for the morning walk. The walk home at lunch is much better with about 1998-2000. I listen to music because I got yelled at once by a passing car. Some guy leaned out of his car and yelled, "Asshole!" I suppose that was the beginning of the headphones--just so I didn't have to listen to the jeers of passing motorists. Interesting, though, that I get called an asshole for simply walking. I don't believe I did anything to him. Maybe I did. Not sure. In fact, I've been yelled at, laughed at, pointed at and frowned at. I've even been attacked and chased by four different canines. One broke skin. My favorite is when people lock their doors as I approach. I suppose I can be a fairly peculiar looking fellow. I've never approached a car, spoke to a motorist, caused an accident or ever changed the course of traffic...I did flip a few guys off but they deserved it. Otherwise, I go with the flow of traffic quite well. Not a big fan of jaywalking. Normally will cross at the appropriate places. It's not renegade pedestrianism. I'm just trying to quietly move from point A to point B across a sometimes challenging urbanized plane.
I've never taken a ride on the new route. No matter how late I am or how bad the weather is. And I'm offered rides often. I'd say once every two weeks someone pulls up next to me and offers a ride. Funny thing is, it's never anyone I know. All the people at work know I'll decline...most of the time by just shooing them off with a hand motion. It makes me wonder however what goes through the head of people who will pull up to a complete stranger they see just walking and offering them a ride. Do they see me as someone who could possibly be bound and tortured? Or are they just naive to the dangers of picking up strangers. I suppose they're just trying to be nice. It's just weird. Sometimes they're surprised when I decline with a "suit yourself," sort of remark. Thank you. I will.
I suppose that people think it's odd and I hardly blame them that I dude in khakis and a button-down knit shirt is walking. I might appear like a nice guy in need of some grace. While it's a kind notion, I'm doing this because I want to. I choose to. I'm not on probation. I didn't lose my license. My car's not stolen or sitting in my front yard. It works fine. I didn't lose a bet.
I wouldn't take a ride from a stranger anyway. Because I secretly (or not so much now), am fearful of dying of suffocation and that's the only thing I think of when someone pulls up next to me.
I've realized too that there's something odd about a guy who willingly walks a mile and a half to work. My lovely wife probably just wishes I would at least ride a bike so she wouldn't have to answer questions about why her husband walks when we both have perfectly operable automobiles. I suppose people at work would feel the same. Like it looks a little odd that someone in a supervisoral position walks. Maybe it gives off the impression that they don't pay well enough. Not true, either. I'm paid well. Well enough at least.
I tried riding a bike. It's hanging up in the garage with a flat tire that needs fixing. I haven't gotten around to it because, well, I wasn't very coordinated on the bike, firstly and secondly, I never really felt the satisfaction from riding the bike. Walking has very spiritual effects. Driving is a jarring and, sometimes, aggravating experience. Plus, it simply goes too fast. You don't have much of an opportunity to process things. You hop in your car and almost with the speed of a teleport, you're in location B, in a fraction of a second. Riding a bike is quicker than walking and slower than driving, but there are still a number of hazards and dangers that keep it from being a truly reflective experience. Walking, on the other hand, allows you to fully process your emotions. It's a paced, but slow form or transport because, essentially, you're transporting yourself as opposed to machinery or automotive accelerating your transport. Because of that, not only is it slower, but it allows for much more thought and meditation. I've also found that walking is a humbling experience because of the constant recognition that your size is quite small and insignificant in God's great earth. You're pretty small in the larger scheme of things. With the sky above and a mile and a half to go, you start to feel pretty small. Repeat that same path and thought five times a week for two years and it starts to really sink in. Also, when you're walking into that forty mile-an-hour West Texas gust, you're concept of Mother Nature's force and fury is pretty crystal clear. The same experience in a car is hardly something you'd pay mind to.
I'm continuing to walk. But as part of my weird and, sometimes, unexplainable reasons, I decided to take the day off this morning to throw it up on the Root Down.
I was New Balance 574 faithful in my walks until I came across the Saucony Jazz. It's a better walking shoe simply because of it's light weight. The frame is much like the 574, but it weighs about half that of a New Balance. Don't get it twisted, though, still the 574 wins out.