The English are expert walkers. They’re just good at it and know how to enjoy it. While we here in the States are good “power walkers,” I admire the English for their rambling: a term for a long nature walk (or that is how I’ve self-defined it), which is a common pastime for many. They put on their Hunter wellies, grab their spaniel’s leash (along with their spaniel, of course) and, rain or shine, head out for a long walk along the river, or across open farmland or through a gem of a park in the middle of the big city. There is no shortage of walking trails in that country, nor walking clubs you can join or weekend walking marathons you can participate in.
While my walking was less rambling and more a means to an end, I did a lot of it. A walk into town from my house was about 40 minutes, and to school, about 30. I often spent those minutes making phone calls home or listening to my iPod, but I learned the best way to spend these walks was in silence. And by the end of my time there, I savored them.
I think I actually learned things about myself on that regular 30 to 40-minute commute. I would work through problems or go over conversations I had with friends that had left me questioning and debating why I believed things I did or acted certain ways. How much of it was a part of who I was and how much of it was a product of the environment I was raised in. Before I get too deep, I’ll say that I think walks kept me grounded that year. They gave me time to process, breath in deeply and grow.
One of my final wishes, if you will, in my last couple of weeks in Oxford was to take a long walk through all of my “places” (pictures are from the Last Walk)–a final homage to those streets that gave me so much more than blistered toes and worn ballet flats.