Sunday, October 18, 2015

Getting There vs. Being There - A Different Take

All of us who do the scooter blog thing probably address the getting there vs. being there perspective at some time or other.  I might have done it here myself in the past, but I don't catalog my own posts in any way that might allow me to refer back to such a piece of writing easily.

Until I got a scooter, all the varied means of human conveyance, with the exception of amusement park rides and bicycles, were but ways of getting from point A to point B.  There was no joy or thrill in getting there for me.  I was that obnoxious child, well into my 40s, either asking or thinking, "Are we there yet?" during every trip whether walking, driving, or being driven.  Even as a kid with a fresh new driver's license, I wasn't one to take the car just for the fun of driving somewhere.  If I didn't have a reason to go out, I didn't go.

Getting a scooter changed all of that for me. Suddenly going out wasn't about getting to somewhere in particular; it was about the simple joy of riding the bike.  No longer did I need a reason for leaving the house because I wasn't going anywhere important most of the time.  I was going out only for the very reasons that only scooter riders know after they've taken that first ride.  Freedom.  Fun.  Exhilaration! 

Mind you, when I'm in the car, it's not about riding around for any kind of joy unless I happen to be driving to a joyful kind of place.  A car's just a way of getting somewhere.

Now, I'm in a hard place.  I need to walk every day for my cardiac health and I've been walking according to my doctor's directions faithfully.  BUT...  Try as I might to enjoy my walks, they're sadly just all about being a "good boy" and doing what I'm supposed to be doing.  I want them to be fun, like riding the scooter.  I want them to be interesting.  I want to see things along the way that delight me and cause me to pause and reach for the camera.  I want to encounter people even for a simple, "Good morning" with a smile.  BUT...  All I focus on when I get out of the car, set up the walker, and take those first steps is getting back to the car, having fulfilled my daily duty of putting in the time that the cardiologist told me to put in.


I look ahead while I'm plodding along.  Oh, I see some autumn decorations here and there and some cute things on porches now and then, but mostly my focus is on where I'm going - to the next corner, the next turn, the next place where I need to check my watch.

Sometimes I can't even see the next place where I'll need to turn to take me back to where I started because the street seems to go on forever.  One step after another.  Tromp.  Tromp.  The streets are unusually and surprisingly quiet when I walk in the morning.  People have already gone off to work, and the ones at home aren't typically out and about on foot.  Being alone on the scooter is different.  The machine itself is almost a fellow traveler in a sense that I can't explain so the solitude doesn't swallow me up as it does when I'm walking.  I've tried doing that same introspection and soul searching when I'm walking as I do when I'm on the scooter, but it doesn't work.  My thoughts just keep going back to looking ahead to where I need to be till the next turn is made or the walk is over.

My sister asked me if I've thought about praying while I'm walking, particularly the Rosary which is kind of a Catholic means of meditation.  I admitted that I did try, but that my thoughts wandered all over the place in spite of trying to keep my attention on the prayers.  I feel like I'm the person on the tee shirt that says something about ADHD and ends abruptly with something like, "Oh look!  A chicken!"

I'm walking in residential neighborhoods and trying to walk a different street each day to keep things interesting.  There are advantages to living in the city - not encountering bears and such, but the city has its own dangers. Everywhere there's a tree there are buckling sidewalk panels and when I come upon one without paying attention the wheels hit it and the walker stops even if I don't.  And sidewalks are typically pitched toward the street even if slightly.  If I start walking on one side of a street and cross to the other either to get into or out of the sun depending on how hot it is, the opposite tilt of the concrete on the other side makes adjusting to it oddly difficult.

Things that delight me are sometimes strangely unexpected.  For example, I paused to take the picture above when I "triumphed" over the urge to cut the corner by going through the parking lot and stayed on the sidewalk till the intersection.  Hey, I'll take good things where I find them, even if they make me raise my own eyebrows.

The best parts about walking so far, even though I can't quite get into a pleasantly sustainable groove are the scenes like this one.  I do find prayers on my lips easily when I come upon these delightfully whimsical visual treats, asking the Almighty to bless the persons who took the time and bore the expense of making and presenting these simple pleasures.  That someone went out of his way to make me feel the kind of boyish glee that I experience when I see such things makes me truly grateful to be part of the same species as he.

So, where am I?  Struggling to find in walking the same pleasure I find in riding the scooter.  Now and then I encounter my cousin, Mark, who's out running when I'm out riding.  I call out to him from the saddle of the bike and he waves as I go past.  I imagine he's shaking his head in wondering what kind of fun I'm having on a scooter just as I'm shaking my head in wondering what kind of fun he's finding in running.  I know there's some pleasure to find in walking for the sake of walking.  I just need to keep looking for it.

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