On some mornings, while out on my walk, I see a fellow walking his two dogs. He’s got their leashes in one hand, and in the other, he always has something to read. Sometimes it is a folded magazine, sometimes a newspaper, but occasionally, he has a book open in one hand as he did this morning. In each case, he is reading while walking. This is something I greatly admire and approve of.
I used to read while I walked. Prior to 2013, I could often be seen with a book in my hand just about anywhere I went. Standing in lines at the grocery store, I’d pull out whatever it was I was reading, and read to pass the time in the line. I’d go for walks with aa book in my hands, occasionally raising my eyes above the page to make sure I didn’t step off a sidewalk and get squashed by a car.
This started back when I was 11 or 12 years old. I would walk from my house to the local branch of the Los Angeles Public Library–about a mile away–spend a few hours (especially in the heat of the summer) wander through the air conditioned stacks, picking out three books, and then finally, reluctantly, checking out and heading back into the heat. I couldn’t wait to get home to start reading so I’d start as soon as I left the library. I tuck two of the books under my arms, and read the third. It distracted me from the heat of the day. I imagine I passed people along the way, and probably was an amusing sight, but I don’t remember. The book carried me away.
Later, I’d read in doctor’s offices, or walking between classes on campus. I’d read while eating my lunch. If I was a passenger in a car, I’d read while driving, overcoming a bit of nausea it sometimes occasioned. I’d read early in the mornings when I arrived at work at 5:30a.
Beginning in 2013, I started using Audible, and found that I could have someone read to me while I did these things, thus freeing up my need to train my eyes between two primary targets. Since then, I rarely read a book while walking, but am almost always listening to a book throughout the day, in what might otherwise be idle or mundane moments: morning walks, emptying the dishwasher, folding laundry, driving the kids to a sports activity.
Still, when I see this fellow in the mornings, walking is dogs with one hand and holding a folded paperback with the other, a smile always on his face, I sometimes miss the days when I went wandering about with a physical book in my hand.
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