Simcha Fisher, author of The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning writes for several publications and blogs daily at Aleteia. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and ten children. Without supernatural aid, she would hardly be a human being.
Even at this late date, I’m still looking for it: that one, simple step I can take that will make my life easier, make my love stronger, make my brain faster, and make my pants looser. Deep down, I know there is no such thing; but hope springs eternal in the heart of a lazy person. I don’t want to have to take all the little steps I’ll have to take to slowly and gradually make minor improvements in thirty-six different areas of my life. I don’t wanna! I want to push a red button and wake up to find that everything’s better.
Well, if we did have a red button that way, I guarantee you, the kids would have pushed fig newtons so deep into it by now that it wouldn’t be functioning; and once we got it cleaned out, it would turn out the batteries were dead, and somebody had put a regular battery in the rechargeable battery charger, and the kitchen was busy exploding. So, no red button for us.
But this isn’t a bad news post! It’s a good news one. I have discovered the next best thing to a magical red button, and since I love you all so very much, I’m going to share the secret with you:
Go for a walk.
Good, eh? Brilliant, right? About a month ago, my husband and I started going on an evening walk together, as many times a week as possible. We go at a brisk pace, about four miles an hour, for about twenty minutes.
Now, for those of you who have large collections of T-shirts from all your various marathons and triathalons, you need to work a little harder to stifle your giggles, because I can totally hear you. But for those others of you who, like me, spend most of the day in front of a computer or driving a car, this evening walk is kind of a big deal. I’m not losing any weight, but I’m starting to see a few muscles again, and that’s nice. My sciatica is going away, I can work in the garden without wheezing like a grampus, whatever that is, and I feel better overall.
There are other benefits, too, besides the (admittedly very mild) physical ones:
For one small period of the day, there’s no temptation to be plugged in. When I’m home, I struggle, minute by minute, not to turn away from what’s in front of me and focus on a screen. When we’re out, it’s just the sky in front of us, the evening smells of the lilacs and the rain, and my husband beside me. What could be better?
It connects us to our community. Our town is so small, we mostly drive right through it on our way to somewhere else. I’m familiar with the houses and buildings on the main strip, but not much else. Now that we walk, though, I suddenly know who has a dog, who is planting something new, who has a toddler who’s getting really good with his tricycle. After six years in this town, I’m starting to feel a little more at home. We actually live right on the highway, where there’s no shoulder, so we just drive into town, park, and walk where the walking’s good.
It wakes me up at the end of the day, when I really need it. When the day starts at 6 a.m. or earlier, the after-dinner torpor is deadly. All I want to do is lie down and hide, but I have to make sure everyone’s cleaning up, packing lunches, finishing homework, brushing teeth. My inclination is to shuffle them off to bed as fast as possible, and then slump in front of the TV with a beer. But if I can slip out for a walk before the final challenges of the day, the evening tasks are manageable, rather than dreadful – and being more alert means that I might even want to read to the kids or play a few rounds of Bananagrams. It means I’m still alive for the last 4-5 hours of the day, rather than slowly turning into part of the couch.
Best of all, my husband and I can talk as we walk. Talk, talk, talk. At home, if there’s something we need to talk about, it’s almost impossible to get started: too many interruptions from kiddos, and if we make a point of locking ourselves in the bedroom, it feels too dire. But it’s different while we’re walking. There’s something about moving along briskly with your arms swinging that makes it easier to say exactly what you mean.
Or it’s easier just to chat about little things, and that’s important, too. I talk about my day, he talks about his day. We talk about the weekend to come, about who’s going to get up with the kids tomorrow, who still needs a birthday present, who still needs a talking-to. Everything just comes easier when your body is already moving forward.
A walk! No big deal, right? But I’m amazed at how much I look forward to our walk in the evening. Just twenty minutes, but it means so much.