Another great day. I’m having some of them again and it still surprises me. Taking advantage of an unusually warm and sunny day (in Ireland, in November! That just doesn’t happen…) we (as in my partner and I, I haven’t started referring to myself in royal “we”) went to Howth, which is a little village by the seaside at the outer suburbs of Dublin. We had chowder, excitedly popped into a few fishmongers (so nice to be able to get affordable fresh fish and seafood again) and then went on a cliff walk.
Man, I’m out of shape, embarrassingly so. The walk itself is not very tiring, maybe an hour and a half all told, little dips and raises but nothing too demanding. Perhaps if we did just that I wouldn’t be so knackered now, but towards the end we decided to climb down to a little, kind of hidden, pebbly beach. The way down (and then inevitably up) is not long at all, but it is pretty steep and narrow. And man did my legs feel that. Several hours later, I’m moving quite gingerly, very aware of every muscle I’ve got. I really need to start doing something about that.
We’ve been talking about this quite a bit today. The subject has been on my mind for some time anyway. I’m a walker, I love walking, hiking, climbing. Stressed out? Go for a walk to relax. In a bad mood, or angry? Walk it off. Heavy stuff on my mind? Mull it over while walking. That’s me. There seems to be a very strong connection between my legs and my mind. I think clearer when I’m moving my feet. I don’t drive. As in I neither want to, nor can. I don’t have a driver’s license, I don’t own a car and neither does my partner. I either take public transport (I’m unutterably delighted to be somewhere where this is a thing again, after 4 years in car-obsessed Northern America) or I walk. At all times, in all weather. Whenever I go to a new city, I walk it, as much of it as my stamina will allow. Touristy spots, and quiet residential areas, main streets and little hidden alleyways, the beautiful, the normal, the ugly parts. I walked all over Paris, Toronto in -20 winter, Tokyo in humid stifling heat, Lima, Buenos Aires and anywhere else I’ve been. These are not small towns, these are huge sprawling cities and unless you walked them, how do you even know you’ve been there? You miss so much if you just skip from one sightseeing spot to another in your car. Public transport is allowed sometimes, when distances get ridiculous, because you’re still in the city when you take a bus, a train, a tram. In among the people of that place. You’re not locked in a glass bubble of your little machine. Yes, I know, I know, some people just like to drive. It beats me why, but fine. I still maintain that you miss half the fun that way.
I’m a walker is what I’m saying. And I want to be able to traverse the places I live in or visit in this manner for many years to come. But here’s the snag. When I was a young whippersnapper, none of this was difficult. Tiring sometimes, yes, of course, you’ll get tired walking for miles whatever condition you’re in. But not difficult. These days… it is getting tough. Oh, a few hour walk on an even ground I can do without too much trouble. But put some incline here and there and things get a bit more dicey. Like today, I’m deeply embarrassed of how much that little climb took out of me. Sure, there will come a time when I will have to accept that certain physical activities are beyond me. But my mid-thirties is very definitely not that time yet. I just have to get my arse in gear and start exercising regularly. I have to stop spending so much time sitting around. I need to start running again, do some strength and flexibility routine. I made a good start on it some months ago. I got through that horrible first period, when it’s all nightmarish, and got to the point where I was seeing results and feeling better in my own skin, and actually enjoying the exercise. Then I hurt my ankles. Not badly, just overextended myself. Well, that happens, I needed to stop for a while to let them recover and then I was meant to get back to it. Only I didn’t. I took the excuse and just stopped completely again. But enough of that! I need to be able to do the things I love. It’s one thing if external circumstances beyond your control are preventing you from doing them. But if it’s your own laziness? No, no, no! That’s just dumb.
I want many more days like today. I want to walk for miles, and miles, in the city, on the hills outside, by the sea. I want to take my camera for lengthy excursions, to hunt down all the beautiful, interesting, delightfully ugly things around. I want days filled with the sharp salty breeze, and smell of burning gorse, and sound of waves, I want to claim places for my own with my feet, I want to walk for hours with people I love, the conversation just flows so naturally when you walk, I want midnight strolls along deserted streets, I want to lie in bed pleasantly tired, and fine, maybe a little sore, but not utterly exhausted. I want to know that I am doing everything I can to ensure that I stay fit enough to do it all.