Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Few Steps Forward

All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

I wanted to clear my head today, so I went for a walk. Just around the neighborhood, nowhere special. The clouds taunted me-- first with big, fluffly "lake effect" snow, and then with stinging sleet. I don't know that any "great thoughts" came to mind, but afterwards I did feel a little better.

During medical school, I somehow befriended a gruff, older classmate. She had been forced to retire from her career by an injury, and made the unlikely choice to relocate from Maui to the dusty, polluted desert to attend medical school. She was quite a character, and I think I learned a lot from her during our few years together.

One of the things that she liked to do was walk early in the morning before class. A few times she actually convinced me to meet her at 6 am and accompany her on a two-mile walk from our apartment complex. It wasn't much, just a short trail along the edge of a wash behind the same stucco houses that pop up in crops all over that city.

She was a big believer in taking care of one's self emotionally as well as physically. I believe she'll make one wickedly-awesome psychiatrist. One of the things that she shared with me was that she used to walk along the beach of the North Shore every morning, and that walking Skunk Creek (I am not making that name up!) by our school was the best she could do to replicate that. Getting outside and away from everything else helped her to calm down enough so that she was better prepared to deal with the rest of the day. I'm hoping to transition to running outside when the weather's better because while I can blow off steam at the gym, it is not exactly a relaxing escape. And, while I try to relax when I am home, often I can't seem to get my mind off all of the things that I should be doing. Maybe adding a few evening walks a week will help.

1 comment:

Chris said...

I have always dones some of my best thinking either on a long bike ride or right after an intense work out. I know that endorphines play into that, but I still think it is mostly like you escape.

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