Every Walk a Discovery

Every Walk a Discovery

During the recent years of pandemic constraints and travel wariness, we learned to satisfy our exploratory spirit with walks close to home. But how can we find the joy of discovery in territory that has become too familiar? As I walked through this time, several tips made for an engaging and renewing experience.

Walk with full attention.

Have you noticed some people treat walking as just a chore to get done while they scroll through their phones? Carry your phone for safety, but keep it in a pocket so you can remain fully present in your walk. It will also be easier to enjoy the benefits of relaxation, meditation, creative inspiration, and deeper connection to places that walking brings.

Consciously connect.

If you are walking with a companion, it’s easy to get caught up in the conversation. Take a break at a bench or picnic table to simply enjoy the day, notice what is around you, and appreciate the experience of being together.

Learn about the nature you see, hear, and smell.

You will find a wide variety of trees and plants to explore along neighborhood streets and nature trails, or in a city park. Check for local guidebooks or identification apps to help you understand the many natural elements that can be found in your area.

Discover public art.

Many communities place murals, sculptures, and other artworks on government buildings, parks, and transit centers—even parking garages! Commercial buildings may have their own art installations or interesting architectural features. Enjoy viewing these artworks as if at an outdoor gallery or museum.

Read the history signs and plaques.

This tip can feel a bit like a scavenger hunt, as history signs often escape notice. Yet, their stories and photos offer an interesting sense of life in earlier times, and they may help you spot aspects of that life that remain today.

Get to know a local small business.

An independent coffee shop, an owner-run retail store, a restaurant built from the work of family—all are businesses that help you connect with community on a walk.

Say hello.

If it feels safe to do so, say hello to the people you pass. Not all of them will respond. But every so often, you will see how that simple act really brightens someone’s day … and yours.

Walking may be the simplest exercise and it may seem to lead nowhere very interesting. But with a little attention to what you find along the way, any walk can become a wonderfully fresh experience.

Janice King is author of  Eastside Seattle Walks and a leader of guided walks in Seattle’s eastern suburbs.

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