Sometimes I like to be alone. It’s not lonely, though I might miss certain people… It’s just maybe a quirk of mine, or something. I don’t know. But sometimes I like walking down streets where there are buildings, houses, other places where people would normally be, but there are for whatever reason no people around.
When I first started at the building I work at now, it was fun to explore all the various places to walk. I walk about 30-40 minutes every day, and I prefer to walk outside in a large loop or some pattern because it clears my mind. Taking in all the new sights, or even relatively new sights, occupies my mind with purely visual traits. That’s important to the walk, I think. It’s a huge part of it. Taking the energy into just moving. It’s interesting.
But, as with most places, eventually I have traveled over all the places within reasonable walking distance, and done all the various patterns and straight line there-and-back routes, and so they become routine. Walking in the same patterns, by the same sights and sounds and smells, desensitizes the experience. This is especially true in colder weather, when I have to walk inside. The visual aspect isn’t as interesting. Sure, it’s beautiful, and when spring comes just the fact that I’m walking outside again will trigger completely visual processes again, and again when things start to bloom.
Until then, though, the desensitization means my brain has to occupy itself in some other way. Usually, this means I start thinking. My brain seizes upon some idea, and runs with it. Sometimes it’s a poem or a thought that is worth exploring, and I find myself pulling out my phone and jotting something down to finish later. But sometimes, it’s something that I just really didn’t want to think about. Not that it’s bad, just that it’s something that isn’t relaxing, like what I have to do at work, or later that week, or one of the other regular and stressful things from life.
The key to the entire walk, though, is destressing the mind. And though I sometimes have great ideas, I would much rather just walk without interruption, seeing things without thinking, just putting one foot in front of the other, my only care being which route to take, but otherwise having no thought deeper than cloud formations, or water ripples, or rustling leaves.
Yes, ideally this could be totally accomplished by going into one of the nature areas around where we live, the state parks or metroparks, but it’s not always practical to do. There’s something completely relaxing about walking down a street full of houses and not seeing a single person, car, bike, gardener, nothing but a snapshot of the street that I happen to be walking down.
I remember this same sensation when I used to deliver pizza at night, especially in winter. There would be complete silence on a street, coldness, maybe the moon shining down, not another person or creature, ground covered with untouched snow… and I liked that.
Maybe I just think too much, and so not thinking at all is a welcome rest from that. Or maybe I see something in the quiet stillness. Maybe I get something out of it. I don’t know. Maybe experiencing complete still, calm, quiet, pristine, dark, unpopulated areas help me to appreciate the busy, warm noisy aspects of life.