Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Notes On A Wednesday Morning Walk"

Instead of exercising on our machines (treadmill and elliptical) at home, or working out in the gym with my trainer – “You have the hottest trainer in the gym,” I’ve been told many times, the commenters, though addressing me, clearly communicating with her – on Wednesday mornings, it is my habit to fulfill my daily exercise regimen by walking to a place called Groundworks, where I purchase a small cup of coffee, and then walk home.
I don’t care that much about coffee, although, as with most things in life, I like it when it’s good. What’s important for me is to have a specific destination, providing my walk with an, albeit fabricated, sense of purpose.
To my “I never claimed I was normal” way of thinking, walking someplace for some reason ranks higher as an activity than walking someplace for no reason – I will walk to the Santa Monica Pier, then turn around and come back – and ranks exponentially higher than walking no place for no reason – I will walk nowhere in particular, and when I get tired, I will come back. I realize there’s some exercise value involved there, but to me, that activity seems – because it literally is – pointless.
So I walk to a coffee place, get coffee, and return home. Sometimes needing to remind myself to drink the coffee.
I’ve been advised by bodywork professionals that there’s a difference between walking on a treadmill and regular walking, the difference being that when you’re “regular walking”, the surface you are walking on is not moving. (Unless you are walking during a earthquake.)
Your body prefers “regular walking”, because it is normal and natural. When you’re walking on a moving surface, your body has to adjust, and these bodily adjustments can throw off your alignment, requiring you to pay a bodywork professional to get you back into alignment, and to encourage you to walk on things that don’t move.
I have now spared you the considerable expense of buying a treadmill, plus the not inconsequential fee for the bodywork and the advice.
You’re welcome.
Another advantage to “regular walking” is that it allows things to come to your mind. When I walk on the treadmill, I wear headphones, and I listen to what I anachronistically call “books-on-tape.”
I only have one brain, which I generally use for my thinking. If a guy’s reading a book to me, that’s all it can handle. I have a uni-tasking brain. It can think, or it can listen. It cannot do both.
Many of my Wednesday walks have provided me with ideas, which have subsequently evolved into blog posts. Not all the ideas make the grade. The walk makes no guarantees. It offers a freed-up mind. The rest is up to me.
Today’s walk suggested three post ideas, two of which, like developing produce, were, as yet, not ripe enough to pick. But I wrote down their gists and I threw them on the pile, confident they will eventually, maintaining the metaphor, come to fruition.
The third idea are you looking at today.
Things I Noticed On My Walk
- One thing I noticed is that, as a result of my gym training and my bodywork, I walk much straighter than I used to. This is good and it’s bad. The good part is, I now look passersby directly in the eye, as opposed to before, when their eyes met the top of my stooped-over head. Eye contact leads to more smiles and “Hellos” as we pass each other on the street.
The bad part is that now that I don’t walk “head down” anymore, I no longer discover lost change lying on the sidewalk. I used to find quite a bit. So those smiles and “Hellos” are not exactly free.
- Looking across the street, I spot two smallish women walking two largish dogs, and when they meet, both dogs go into “attack mode”, barking and snarling, requiring their owners to muster all their resources to keep the combatants apart. At that moment, dog ownership did not look like much fun.
I think about running to their rescue, but I imagine a headline reading,
“Good Samaritan Torn To Pieces By Crazed Dogs”
I think about standing there, waiting to see what transpires. But it seems too much like voyeurism. As usual, I find the middle ground between helping and voyeurizing, and I take it. I simply move on.
- Turning left on Rose, I encounter a man in a wheelchair, proceeding, with considerable effort, down the sidewalk in front of me. A moral quandary immediately engulfs me, possibly as karmic payback for my not interceding in the dogfight.
The question is this: Given that his progress is indisputably impeding my own, do I pass the person struggling in a wheelchair, or do I respectfully “funeral march” behind him, till I get to the coffee place, or he mercifully makes a turn?
The guy’s got enough trouble already. Why add to his difficulty?
“Sorry about the legs. But you’re really slowing me down.”
And yet…
It’s life. It’s the way it is. We all have our problems. Who knows? The guy could be perfect, except for the walking.
I pass him on the right, moving swiftly, to foreshorten his humiliation.
I get my coffee, and I start back.
And there he is. Ten minutes after I’d left him, having, in the interim, progressed little further than a block. I try not to make eye contact, but with my new and improved posture, it is no longer possible.
The man seemed to recognize me.
You’re the guy who speeded up.”
He did not look happy.
I did not feel great.
“Regular Walking” is a more natural movement. It also clears your mind for entering thoughts. One of which occurred to me at that moment:
“This would not be happening, if I were walking on the treadmill.”


Lyle said...

When you walk, do you saunter? Do you stroll? Or do you have a "brisk walk." Brisk walks, they tell me, are better for you. Gets the heart rate up higher. I guess that's a good thing.

I prefer to take my time on a walk. Enjoy the taste and smell of the fresh air . . . enjoy the greenery of the trees and shrubs and grasses, enjoy the birdsong . . . my heart rate may not rise that much . . . but my muscle tone is better. I think. If I do a brisk walk, that seems to me to be too much like work.

Enjoying your blog. Keep up the superb work!


Zaraya said...

Dear Mr. Pomerantz; is exploring enough of a purpose to a walk, Griffith Park say, or do you need a definite goal beyond looking for new vistas?

I have no idea why you attract cranky comments as the one from the slow walking man. You're frequently reporting snarky things people have said to or about you, yet you seem a genial and mellow guy.


gratioac said...

who is/was cranky?