Go take a walk

From one of my favorite (free) newsletters, Mutual Fund Observer, because of it’s quirky writing and observations. This being the most recent of them:

In a college with more trees than students, autumn is stunning. Around the campus pond and along wooded paths, trees begin to erupt in glorious color. At first the change is slow, more teasing than apparent. But then we always have a glorious reign of color … followed by a glorious rain of leaves. It’s more apparent then than ever why Augustana was recognized as having one of America’s 25 most beautiful campuses.

Every morning, teaching schedule permitting, I park my car near Old Main then conspire to find the longest possible route into the building. Instead of the simple one block walk east, I head west, uphill and through the residential neighborhoods or south, behind the natural sciences building and up a wooded hillside. I generally walk unencumbered by technology, purpose or companions. 

Kicking the leaves is not optional.

November 1, 2014

I listen to the crunching of acorns underfoot and to the anxious scouring of black squirrels. I look at the architecture of the houses, some well more than a century old but still sound and beautiful. I breathe, sniffing for the hint of a hardwood fire. And I left my mind wander where it wants to, too.  Why are some houses enduringly beautiful, while others are painful before they’re even complete?  How might more volatile weather reshape the landscape? Are my students even curious about anything? Would dipping their phones in epoxy make a difference? Maybe investors don’t want to know what their managers actually do? Where would we be if folks actually did spend less? Heck, most of them have already been forced to. I wonder if folks whose incomes and wealth are rapidly rising even think about the implications of stagnation for the rest of us? Why aren’t there any good donut shops anymore?  (Nuts.)

You might think of my walks as a luxury or a harmless indulgence by a middle-aged academic. You’d be wrong. Very wrong.

The world has conspired to heap so many demands upon our attention than we can barely focus long enough to button our shirts. Our attention is fragmented, our time is lost (go on, try to remember what you actually didFriday) and our thinking extends no further than the next interruption. It makes us sloppy, unhappy and unimaginative.

Have you ever thought about including those characteristics in a job description: “We’re hoping to find sloppy, unhappy and unimaginative individuals to take us to the next level!  If you have the potential to become so distracted by minutiae and incessant interruption that you can’t even remember any other way, we have the position for you.”

Go take a walk, dear friends. Go take a dozen. Take them with someone who makes you want to hold a hand rather than a tablet. The leaves beckon and you’ll be better for it.