Spring is finally here. I have waited so long to be able to get outside and enjoy a walk, smell the dirt and grass, and watch the birds and squirrels. But even though the days have grown warm enough and the streets are clear of ice, I find my winter habits hard to break. I sit inside and look out the window, happily enjoying spring from my couch. If you are like me, I encourage you to get outside. Go on a walk. The first step is hard, but every step after is a reward.
Taking a walk each day has numerous health benefits—you can Google it. But walking is also a matter of joy. Going on a walk gives us a perspective change; allows us to breathe in new sights, smells, and sounds; and helps us to observe a world outside of our immediate home or workplace so we can be reminded that ancient, natural processes are still going on. The birds are migrating, the snow is melting, the crocuses are blooming, the bugs are hatching—all while we go about our busy lives.
John Burroughs once wrote, “Herein is no doubt our trouble, and one reason of the decay of the noble art in this country. We are unwilling walkers. We are not innocent and simple-hearted enough to enjoy a walk. We have fallen from that state of grace which capacity to enjoy a walk implies.” Burroughs wrote those words over a hundred years ago. “This is a lesson the American has yet to learn—capability of amusement on a low key,” he wrote. He said Americans expect rapid and extraordinary returns, and we have nothing to invest in a walk because it is too slow and “too cheap.”
Taking a walk slows us down to our own natural pace. Jogging and biking are great for exercise and enjoyment, but a walk is something else. Take a walk as often as you can this spring, and pay attention to what you observe that you may have missed if you were moving too fast. Burroughs wrote, “A man must invest himself near at hand and in common things, and be content with a steady and moderate return, if he would know the blessedness of a cheerful heart and the sweetness of a walk over the round earth.” There are times in my life I get caught up in the rapid and extraordinary. A walk brings me back to the blessedness of a cheerful heart.
“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter…to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring—these are some of the rewards of the simple life." —John Burroughs, Leaf and Tendril.