Since travelling on packed-out, wedged-in tubes at peak time isn’t a terribly sensible idea for the heavily immuno-suppressed and since I’m not yet rich enough to have a private driver whisk me round the streets of our capital, I’ve taken to walking a lot more.
And, let me tell you, it’s been pretty enlightening.
I’m embarrassed to confess I’ve never walked a lot. I grew up in Milton Keynes, the first English city to be laid out on a grid system and designed for the car rather than the pedestrian, so I was always used to driving or being driven everywhere.
Then, obviously, I was quite ill for a time which meant I didn’t do much of anything, including what little walking one can do around MK in the main shopping centre and the theatre district where all the nightlife is.
When I worked in London for 9-months last year, it was for a production company that focused on disability, run by disabled people, so I often acted as chauffeur to the producers and directors on each shoot, or simply driving the team to meetings.
But driving around London did teach me one thing (unless you count how annoying/frustrating/irritating and aggravating driving and drivers in London are): it’s not actually that big.
Certainly, it’s a metropolis of different lifestyles, cultures and rhythms, but it’s possible to get across large parts of it relatively quickly.
All of which inspired me to start looking at walking routes whenever I Google Mapped the addresses I was headed to.
And I started to walk.
Why I now choose walking
Once I started walking, it became kind of addictive. You see things from a different perspective. You have the choice to stop, to linger, to consider things you see, rather than keeping your eyes on the road or being whisked ever-onwards by public transport.
I started to notice not just the diversity, but the personality of the areas I was walking through – the little coffee shops and tea-houses, some of which were packed with locals who clearly know best.
I started to see the people of London as more than just an amorphous blob of “Londoners”.
And I started to give myself time to think.
It’s not often in the busy lives we lead that we can take time out for ourselves. Especially working in social media, I always feel a pressure to be checking what’s happening, seeing if there’s anything that needs replying to or finding new content to be sharing.
Walking around London, I started to enjoy the time I had just to walk, to think and to be myself, within myself, without chance to distract myself with something work-related.
I think we all have a habit of rushing: we rush to get to places, we rush to complete things, we rush to respond to emails, text-messages, Tweets or Facebook posts. Rarely do I take the time to sit, think and wonder.
Which is why I’m going to start walking more. Whether in London or at home in the evenings after work, I’m going to choose to step away and spend time in my own head, in my own company, digesting and processing my day.
I think we can all do with a little more “me time” and lacing up some comfortable shoes and taking ourselves out into the fresh air for a stroll is the perfect way to do it.