I realized the other day that out of the 52 countries I’ve visited, I’ve only ever driven in one of them. Just ONE! Pretty surprising considering I have lived the last 10 years in a city know for its cars (and freeways, and traffic, and air pollution). The one country I did drive in was France. Once to visit the champagne region and once in the south of the country. In every other country I’ve either taken public transportation or I’ve had friends to drive me around. But whenever I get the opportunity to do so, I also just like to walk. Sometimes I know where I’m going, other times I’m just wandering with the full intention of getting lost, but each time I go out I feel like my thoughts come alive.
When I travel over seas, I often have the sensation that I am much more aware, observant, inspired and attentive than when I’m in my home environment. I always attributed it to my new surroundings which I am sure play a big part, but perhaps it is also because I more often make time to walk and take in my surroundings with little or no agenda or time restraints. Many philosophers, business gurus, cultural icons and professional travelers champion the idea of taking time to walk for both mental and physical exercise. Not only are you stretching your legs and getting a chance to see a new place up close, but that repetitive one-foot-in-front-of-the-other rhythm also sets your brain to thinking freely. A meditative pace inspires a meditative mind.
In Los Angeles, a city I love dearly, I spend a good amount of time in my car every day. Even though the city is trying to improve and expand its public transportation options, I still find myself behind the wheel whether I’m going around the corner to the store or across the city to meet with a friend. And although you technically could use that time in your car as private time (assuming you are not driving a bunch of kids or carpooling with co-workers) but more often than not you’re listing to the radio or talking on the phone or just trying not to miss your exit off the freeway.
And now I find myself back at an office job, staring at a cubicle divider or monitor for the better part of my day. I spend far more time sitting in my black ergonomic chair, than I do out walking and exploring. While Los Angeles is known for it’s cars and its traffic, it is luckily also known for its pleasant weather, hiking trails and beach paths. This New Year’s Day I started the year off with a beautiful walk just around my little neighborhood, and having come across these quotes I realize its something I need to fit into my schedule more often. Just to keep my thoughts flowing and to tide me over until I can lace up a pair of shoes in country number 53…