It was 95 degrees today when I finished my exercise class. (It was actually a ballet class, but “ballet” sounds graceful, elegant, and light-footed, none of which can be used to describe my fledging efforts. And anyway, we mostly spent the time doing stretches and other barre exercises.) Someone asked me if I were going to walk home, and she sounded surprised when I said “yes.” I suppose it is foolish to walk in the heat, but I am well protected. Wide-brimmed hat. Long sleeves. Long pants. Plenty of water. (Although skimpy clothes in the heat are the norm, it’s actually more comfortable to be covered up. You can’t feel the direct burn of the sun, and clothes trap cooler air between the cloth and your skin.)
For me, walking is much easier than driving. You put one foot in front of the other, shift your weight and put the other foot in front. You keep repeating this until you get where you want to be. What an innovation! No ignition. No keys. No gas. No oil. No tune up. No tires to fill. No oil pumps to break down. No brakes to fail. Just your feet and you.
There are drawbacks to walking, obviously. It takes more time to get anywhere, your mileage is limited, your carrying capacity is restricted. And if your body breaks down, it’s harder to fix and costs more than if your car breaks down. (Though maybe not much more since mechanics nowadays seem to empty your bank account as fast as doctors do.) Which, of course, is why I own a car, though after 42 years, the poor thing only has only 152,000 miles on it. I’ve also put more than 42,000 miles on my feet in those years. Both means of transportation — car and feet — are a bit worse for wear, but both still work.
Not everyone has the luxury of being able to move around on both feet, so I feel very fortunate that I can walk, and generally walk without pain, though sometimes after the mile to the dance studio, an hour or two of classes, and the mile back to the house, my feet do protest. Even more fortunately, after a bit of rest and perhaps a change of shoes, they are ready to go on the move once more.
Walking is truly one of life’s miracles.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.