A Quiet Morning Walk

bike path

For the last half year I’ve been up early and out for a 2-1/2 mile walk without fail, rain or shine. Until Friday, that is. I was getting over a cold and woke up Friday morning thinking it would be better to sleep a little longer. I decided, reluctantly, to skip my morning walk. I thought I might get out later in the day, but the day got busy and so Friday became the first day in recent memory when I didn’t get out for a walk.

It happened Saturday, too. It was cold Saturday morning, I decided to light a fire in the fireplace, and it was so nice that I stayed in again. I didn’t get out for a walk Saturday either.

So I was determined to get out for a walk this morning. And at 6:28 am I was out the door. It was cool, about 35 °F. But I got out there. It was different than my previous walks, however, because it was a quiet morning walk.

Normally, as I head out the door, I queue up whatever audiobook I am listening to and listen to my book for the entire walk. I can become so engrossed in the book as to miss who said hello or good morning to me as I walk. I haven’t yet been hit by a car, so there is some of part of me looking out for my safety, but apparently not any social graces. My walk takes about 45 minutes, which means I get a guaranteed 45 minutes of listening time each day. And since I generally listen at 1.7x speed these days, that’s the equivalent of about 1 hour 15 minutes of audiobook.

This morning was different. I decided not to listen to anything while I walked. Instead, I’d allow my mind to wander, not focused on listening to anything in particular. I hoped that the wandering would lead to some ideas for the story I am currently writing. I think it worked. My mind, free from other distractions, wandered. I heard the early morning birds singing. I watched as a fox sat down on the bike fifty yards in front of me, and then dash into the woods as I got closer. I watched a second fox race across the bike path to follow it a few seconds later.

It was nice walking, just me and my thoughts with no go between. I’d hope that maybe, just maybe, I’d come up with a title for the story I’m writing, and I came up with at least a possibility. I also came up with a way to simply some of what I was trying to do in the story in the first place.

The walk got me thinking: there are probably a lot of reasons why I went through a serious, multi-year bout of writer’s block. But one of those reasons may have been that I gave myself no time to think and dream. I became increasingly obsessed with reading in every free moment I had, which meant there was no time for daydreaming, except maybe in the shower. And I’d sped up my showers so that they lasted just a couple of minutes. Upon returning from my walk this morning, I decided that, at least for a while, I’m going to take quite walks. I’m going to give up the guaranteed 45 minutes of audiobook listening in favor of 45 minutes of daydreaming. It may not solve all of my issues with with fiction writing I’ve had these last few years, but maybe it will help a little.

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