Have you ever gone on a walk with a curious two and a half-year-old boy? If so, you may have discovered, as I did this weekend, that it completely changes the nature of the walk.
Normally when I have a destination in mind, I walk quickly, wanting to arrive in a timely fashion. Plus, I remind myself that moving faster increases my heart rate, which makes for better exercise. But then, normally I’m walking by myself or with another adult. It’s something else entirely to go for a walk with my young nephew.
I knew we would go slower due to his shorter legs (something I don’t get to say very often!), but I quickly discovered that our pace would be slowed further still by curiosity. He likes to investigate everything, particularly anything related to cars or construction.
We had to stop at every single storm drain so he could peer inside, and we often paused at stop signs (or other street signs) so he could admire them. He exclaimed over almost every truck we saw and grew particularly delighted by buses. Rocks and pinecones proved fascinating, as did splashing in puddles, and he wanted to say hello to all the friendly dogs we met and admire the ducks in the pond.
All of which meant that instead of my usual rapid pace, we ambled and moseyed along, making our steady but slow way. I so rarely approach outings like this that it came as something of a revelation, reminding me that getting outside and moving isn’t simply about exercise. It’s about enjoyment.
Luckily we weren’t in a rush, and I went along with his meandering, bemused and amused by what he found of interest. Particularly noteworthy was the school bus driver who noticed how excited my nephew was about the bus and let us on for a quick tour. I think my nephew may have been in heaven.
In retrospect, when I consider how much I smiled and enjoyed the time, I think it probably did me as much good or more so than walking at my normal speed. I would have arrived at our destination in a third of the time, but I would have missed so much else, all those things that attracted and delighted my nephew.
I can’t always afford the time to linger quite so much on walks, but those times when I can, I want to make an effort to slow down a bit, to truly bask in the sun and notice the wonders of the world and people around me, knowing it will do not only my body but my heart and spirit so much good.