the world is subtle
boring walks for writers: a noticing practice
Just about every day, I take a walk in my neighborhood.
It’s basically the same walk every day—so predictable that if J needs to find me for any reason after I’ve left, he knows exactly where I’ll be.
The route is determined in part because of my preferences. I like gentle, flat walks because they harmonize with my thoughts the best. I’m not sure it this has always been true, but I’ve discovered that really chill exercise agrees the best with me—pilates, breathing exercises, and walks at a relaxed pace. I do a little bit of an incline at the very beginning so the rest of the way is a very enjoyable coasting. It takes almost exactly 30 minutes.
You might think it’s boring to do the same walk every day, but I love it for this one crucial reason: Seeing the same places every day sharpens my ability to notice things.
Here are some examples:
There’s a trio of 50-something guys who play free jazz in a garage, then stand around on the sidewalk afterwards talking about insurance policies and fancy toilets. Sometimes I walk by when they’re playing, other times when they’re talking afterward. (If I didn’t do this same walk every day, I might only notice one part of this equation.)
After roses, agapanthis. After jacarandas, magnolias. After magnolias, myrtles.
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