My oldest had to stay late after school today for an audition, which meant instead of him going home with his carpool ride, I had to pick him up on my way back from work. Not a big inconvenience, by any means, but the rehearsal ran until 5:30pm, which meant either staying late at the office, or finding something else to do while I waited.
So guess what I chose today.
I few weeks back, I wrote about trying to stop during the day to make time and space for some quiet reflection. But it was only about a week ago that I came to the realization that I could pause at any time during my day to do just that. So on the drive to my son’s school, I started to think about where I might find a quiet place to step out of my daily routine and enjoy the moment.
I remembered that there was a small park tucked away not too far from his school, with a little lake. I had seen it on a map, and had driven by it at least once (on a failed attempt to bypass traffic, no doubt), but I had never actually stepped foot in the park. Given how close it sat to my son’s school, it seemed like a perfect place to spend a half hour.
Instead of sitting, though, I decided to walk. I found a trail that led around the lake, so I headed out down the path. My first thought was entirely goal-oriented: let’s see if I can make it around the lake before I have to leave. Wrong approach. Instead, I decided simply to walk, look, and listen, keeping vaguely aware of time–and after fifteen minutes, turn around and walk back. Yes, I admit: I did interrupt my walking two or three times to take a picture, thinking ahead to this moment when I would be writing about this walk, but a hundred yards in, I put away my phone and just enjoyed the quiet.
There were others walking too–an older couple with their two dogs, a jogger, a woman walking on her own–so it was certainly not an experience of solitude. Nor was I entirely remote. Yes, I was “in nature,” but I was also very much in the middle of a city. But what I managed to carve out for myself in that half hour was a moment that I do not usually give myself, and certainly not at 5pm–a moment bound to no agenda and no plan.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it was a “walking meditation,” but it certainly provided me with more focus and reflection than an extra half hour at the office.