Walking is a rare privilege for most city folks. We commute long hours in taxis, buses, Metro or our vehicle to work even longer hours, only to commute back at the end of the day. When we finally reach home, we are too tired, both physically and mentally.
The last thing one wants to do is move again. We want peace, maybe a bit of telly and a soft bed.
I still try to make room for walking at the weekends. It is, for me, a “speed detox”. At “car speed”, everything is a bit blurry. One can only perceive the big objects, the buildings and billboards, but while walking, everything slows down. Time passes differently, and amazing details from your surroundings start to emerge, like the rare beautiful flower you’ve never seen in your life that is growing in a wall on an alley you just turned into.
We live in a “rush culture”. It seems we all want to “get there”. Where? Too many places at the same time. We want that meal, that gadget, that holiday, that beach body, that job, that car, that home, that family, that retirement, that “success” and “peace.” We want it all, and we want it NOW. We are rushing.
We’ve lost the notion that things take time. We’ve lost the art of a “step-by-step approach,” and with that, we’ve lost patience. We see it especially in kids born after 1997, barely 21 and feeling like they’ve have accomplished “nothing.”
Part of it is the massive amount of information and the competitiveness in today’s world, where they’ve seen Kylie Jenner, who is worth $900 million (Dh3.3 billion) and has 117.8 million followers on Instagram. She’s done it all, and she got it all. For the older of us, we’ve seen Elon Musk and his 120 hours a week work. That’s 17 hours a day, without a day off. But, hey, he has it all, or does he?
We certainly want it all, and we keep rushing and pushing, working longer hours, speeding in our cars to get “there”... whatever destination it is for each of us. Walking with no destination in mind seems like the antithesis of the formula for success.
But, our ancestors used their two feet to crawl out of “humanity’s crib” in Africa, crossed Asia and Europe, reached America (the continent) and spread all over the globe. Their needs were basic: food and shelter, and they got them by walking. Now we worry that our pictures of that “fabulous organic chimichanga” are not good enough because our very old phone does not have the right filters.
Researchers are baffled about what they call “The Depression Epidemic.” Many are blaming it on the extremely competitive environment we face in real or virtual life (rushing to win, and fear of loss).
Walking is my detox in that world where I have to be “at my best, now.” The speed slows, and my thoughts finally become coherent, and I realise I am already “there”, that I’ve always been “there.” Or, rather “here”.
We are all heading to the final destination, and I don’t mean to be morbid here, but that is the reality for all of us. “Life,” said grandma, “is like a good cup of coffee. Sip it slowly and enjoy it fully.” She lived past her nineties and never posted anything on Facebook.
Musk and Jenner may have it all. I have that little flower on that hidden alley, the one I got to know petal by petal. I guess, in a way, I have some rare privileges… like walking.