Most folks don’t especially love exercise. I definitely count myself as “most folks”. It’s not that I intrinsically dislike exercise; it’s more that I loathe routine and repetitive workouts. Hiking unexplored trails is grand but walking exactly 1 hour a day to burn off those calories I shouldn’t have eaten in the first place is a lot less fulfilling. The whole ritual is more akin to the daily commute than a rewarding jaunt in the great outdoors.
Brimming with such enthusiasm, it’s only natural that more often than not I’d opt to stay indoors and watch Columbo on Netflix rather than suffer through another lap around the neighborhood.
Then I adopted a dog. Walter loves walks. He never ever gets bored of them. He doesn’t even seem to mind that we pass the same mundane landmarks, meet the same neighbor dogs, and encounter the same series of pee encrusted bushes every single day.
So we walk, and we walk every single day without fail. It’s been good for both of us, although Walter is the one having all the fun. I suppose I’m pleased that my jeans fit better…
I started to wonder why he remained so entertained and I continued to be so utterly bored. Then it dawned on me that I’d been looking at it all the wrong way.
Walter doesn’t view our daily walk as a chore. There isn’t anything remotely dull about it. Even the routine is exciting. He seemed to relish every detail, even beyond the doggy hobbies of patrolling territory and marking it accordingly. The wind carries an endless cacophony of industrial and natural sounds; terrifying delivery trucks, wheezing mufflers, deliciously out of reach birds, distant dog barks, and rustling leaves. Then there are the smells; wretched exhaust, freshly cut grass, decaying leaf litter, backyard BBQs, and moist top soil. Lastly and most important (to human eyes at least) are the sights: swaying tree branches, the dizzying array of particles that makeup every inch of dirt and cement, clouds creeping across the sky, and the warmth filled transformation of every color as the sun dips below the horizon. To Walter the daily walk is a kaleidoscope of bite sized experiences that are always unique and never uninteresting.
Somehow I’d been missing all of the above and viewing the neighborhood as a static backdrop for my daily routine. I’d forgotten how radically the mix of the world changes from moment to moment. Walter would never forget or ignore such important details. He relishes the present and I think he’s onto something. I’ve decided to stop and smell the roses as well (I’ll leave the sniffing of certain things to Walter). That tiny shift in perspective has made every day quite a bit richer. At the very least it’s made me appreciate our walks a whole lot more.