Hyperlocal: Daily Walk Project

I try to take a walk every day, weather permitting, for fitness. Outdoors is best, but I joined a health club so I can use a treadmill when the weather is terrible. (I hate the treadmill.)

I still don’t walk every day, but I am committed enough so that I think of it every day, want to do it every day, and miss it when I skip.

When I decided I wanted to walk for fitness, I realized that I had to be able to do it without getting into the car, or else I would use the need to drive to my walk as an excuse to skip it. So I have a regular route, starting at my back door and going in a circuit that ends where I started. I just doggedly get out there and tramp the same route.

My house is on a pretty busy road, but behind it is a quiet suburban, middle-class neighborhood. Many of the houses were built in the post WWII building boom of the 1950s and 60s. You could call it dull and boring.

What I have found by walking the same route through this neighborhood over and over, is that it’s not dull at all. Walking, I notice things. I see people walking their dogs, commuters heading home from the train, kids playing street hockey, mothers pushing strollers. I see changes. Little ephemeral differences charm me. Sometimes I’m puzzled by what I see, and promise myself I’ll try to figure it out, do some research or whatever.

Inspired by my son, who has opened my mind to contemporary art, and by my desire to share my experience with a (mostly imaginary) audience, I’m starting the Daily Walk Project. Every time I notice something of interest on my walk, I’ll take a picture or make a note, and add it to this archive.

I’ll be tagging these entries in the Daily Walk Project category. To see them in sequence, you can choose that category on the blog pages.

This project is an expression of my belief that every moment is precious and should be experienced with an open, appreciative mind. By focusing on the minutiae of my route, I hope “to see a world in a grain of sand.”

It’s also a way to support a writing practice that will feed my larger project, a novel. To be a writer you have to write, and it’s all too easy to succumb to blocks. On any given day, if I don’t work on the novel, I can at least do this. I hope it will be both.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
— William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

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