A couple of mornings a week I take a left turn instead of my normal right turn when I leave my building to head to my office. This turn takes me on a 30 minute (give or take a few) walk to a cafe where I like to go for a scrumptious cappuccino or an invigorating peppermint tea to officially start my day.
I started to take this path a few weeks ago as one of the many things I began to integrate into my day in my effort to move past the body-mind sludge that had developed within my person as a result of varied travel over several months, Christmas eating and celebrating and a disruption both conscious and unplanned from my regular movement routines. This particular walk was selected for a number of reasons: it is different from my normal walk and thus gives me new things to look at and things to think about; it takes 10 to 15 minutes longer than my regular walk to the office and it includes a 10-block uphill stretch. It is a fairly steep hill so the hike up it gets my lungs and legs working, which is what I was after. Once I get to the top of the 10 block hill I turn and have another six flat easy blocks to recover before getting to the cafe.
I noticed something very significant this morning or rather I noticed the significance of something that I had already noticed.
On previous treks I had noticed that if I turned towards my cafe on the busy street that I came to at the top of the hill I had a fairly normal city walk down a noisy commercial street. I have walked down that street many times. However one day I wondered what would happen if I went straight for one more block going beyond the busy street and instead walked the final six blocks down a residential street that paralleled the commercial street. It would mean having to backtrack one block when I got to the cross-street for the cafe.
I gave it a try and I was amazed. It was like I was in a totally different environment. Instead of busses and cars rushing past me as I walked past countless commercial and retail outlets I was walking down a calm, quiet beautiful boulevard. The tree lined street is home to several heritage dwellings, colourful and cosy looking, and small walk-up apartments and the odd church or school. The noise level is magically different on this street just one block off of the main drag. I listen to the birds singing and children playing at the daycare centre or to the silence. The sense of stillness and calm feel wonderful. Upon the discovery of this haven several walks back I have never gone back to walking on the busy street and I really look forward to this stretch of the walk. The significant improvement in surroundings was appreciated.
What I appreciated this morning was a slightly different significance: that of the power of a simple shift.
In my examination of health and what it means to be healthy I have thought a lot about all the advice and information we are constantly bombarded with. All of this information can sometimes paralyze us instead of getting us to move in a health promoting direction. I believe we think we have to do so much to get to a better state of health that we choose to give up and say forget it. It seems too hard too complex and too complicated.
What I noticed this morning was how my choice to walk one more block past the hurried atmosphere of the busy main street was just like making a choice to make a simple shift in my activities that have the potential to impact my ability to be healthy. The significant power of a simple shift made me smile.
Irene McDermott © 2012