It’s not about the dog.
I walk because my body tells me it’s time to move … and because I have a thousand things to think through. So I let the dog take me for a walk.
Walking is this wonderful movement that requires almost no thought, no particular skill, and really nothing more than a little time and some comfortable shoes. The very reliability of it makes it soothing.
Walking was an essential piece of my self-care when I was recovering from the loss of my daughter. In those raw days of grief, just the simple act of putting one foot in front of another saved me in some basic way. The promise of a walk got me up and out. So I emerged, blinking, into the sunlight.
At that point, even twenty minutes was a triumph.
But as my grief healed, I began to relax into this walking thing more and more. I found the feeling of the breeze on my face, and the dirty under my feet was consoling. There was something simple and real about it.
Unlike my forays to the gym, I didn’t have to look good. In fact, I cried a lot as I walked the trails at a local park, and no one seemed to mind a bit.
That’s when I discovered I needed to walk, even in the rain. And that’s when I discovered walking in the mud.
Now, walking in the mud is a particular pleasure all its own. You put on some big rubber boots and you just have at it. And if the mud is thick and gooey, or full of mud puddles, you can splash. You can slop. You make a great, big glorious mess, and it’s actually a lot of fun.
Then when you get back home, you leave your boots outside the front door, and you look down at your mud-spattered jeans, and you think, ‘I’ve done something today.’ Your heart beats with a little more vigor, your soul feels refreshed, and you enjoy the glow of accomplishment.
This is why I walk, in the rain and in the sun. The very reliability of the Earth to welcome me, comfort me, and provide a little interesting scenery as I go puts me back together.
Nothing is expected of me as I walk, and so I get ideas and find sudden inspirations. It’s like shaking hands with life again, every time.
And yes, the dog doesn’t mind one damn bit.
Want to know how your brain actually ‘cleans house’ when you take a walk or do any kind of exercise? There’s real science to this. I found out when I interviewed personal trainer Will Belew on my Before the Afterlife podcast … check it out here.
You can find this episode below, or subscribe with any podcast player.