I’ve been doing a lot of walking lately.
It started with the treadmill in front of the TV. I had just moved to a new country. It was winter and I was cold. I walked to generate internal heat, and it worked. My tropical body became addicted to it. So I walked every morning. By the end of winter, I was clocking in more than six miles in less than two hours, the machine informed me. Ten kilometers.
Then Spring rolled around and it became warm enough for me to walk outside. I walked to the bookstore. I walked to the farmer’s market. I walked to the grocery store to get bananas... sometimes avocados. Any excuse was a good reason.
In the same shoes that carried me across Mediterranean Europe for five weeks mere months ago, a feat that I was only able to achieve after I walked away from my job of ten years.
That walk I made with someone – the love of my life, with whom I also recently walked down the aisle.
By way of introducing me to the splendors of California in Spring, my husband takes me for regular walks in the parks. A walk in the park here takes on different meanings. As a personal joke between us goes, I come from the jungle, where hikes invoke the desire of machete ownership.
Don't get me wrong; California’s terrain poses its own set of challenges. While I may have lost almost all my toenails due to inappropriate footwear, I have learned to read, trust and make sense of trail markers and maps, something my flip-flops-style rainforest background never taught me.
Liberated, somewhat, from the worry of being led astray, and actually allowing myself to be “lost” in the beauty of nature, I have been able to let the mind too reap the benefits of the physical effort, often finding myself deep in thought during a hike, internally working out kinks of the emotional and spiritual kinds.
Japanese author Haruki Murakami wrote in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, ‘No matter how mundane some action might appear, keep at it long enough and it becomes a contemplative, even meditative act.’
I read that book when it came out in 2008, and quickly mailed it to my then-boyfriend-now-husband at the address I would move halfway across the world to seven years later. Or perhaps I should say I mailed it to my future self. A runner I am not, but I can surely relate better now to the metaphorical freedom of putting your body and mind through the constant act of forward motion.
There’s a map of Joseph D. Grant Park on my wall. It is there because we pick a trail every weekend, and highlight our progress in bright yellow and orange. At 9,553 acres, it is the largest park in Santa Clara County, so we have a lot of ground to cover. Much like our new life here.
Baby steps, they say. One step at a time. Or as a friend back in Malaysia once said, ‘Walk it out.’ With that in mind, I shall focus on putting one foot in front of the other, as I have put one word after another on this blank page.
And for having survived the awkwardness of the first post, I guess I can now say Welcome!