Today I walked at least four miles. On mile one, my six year old was literally dragging his feet. He did not enjoy his first day of camp at the Rec Center yesterday. He did not want to return today.
Unable to use the tried-and-true parenting method of manhandling him into the car and bribing him with ten minutes of game time on my iPhone, my son had to walk a mile on a wooded trail. He was really not into it. I wasn’t into it either, honestly.
My brain was into it, but my body was not. In recent weeks I have more than tripled my walking mileage and my body is feeling bedraggled. Extreme pain in my left heel over the past week signaled a potentially dire physical problem that could derail our hiking commutes. I have all the signs of plantar fasciitis: a painful foot injury that flares up with increased exercise, particularly walking or running without sufficient training. Yet, I was optimistic that if I stretched enough and wore running shoes instead of flip flops (see yesterday’s walk), I would be fine.
I was mostly fine, but thoughts of “you should just rest, this is stupid to try to push through” disrupted the peace. Mixed with a child whining, “I don’t want to go to camp” and pleas for me to “walk slooower” didn’t make the trip more fun. But we kept walking. There was really nothing else to do.
I suggested a game that switched our attention to the trail; we searched for the most beautiful rocks. Soon after, even after we stopped rock hunting, we stopped complaining. Once at camp, all was well. Lenny ran away from me to sit with his friends. I turned on my throbbing heel and headed back down the mile plus trail to wait for my train home.
Killing the idea of “killing time”.
This day was one of two in which I work locally and do not need to take the train to NYC. Unfortunately, that does mean that I have to wait 40-minutes for a train headed to my town in the other direction. The trains going away from the city arrive less frequently, as would be expected. Today was my first camp commute where I needed to kill some time.
I consciously slowed down my pace and calmed my monkey brain by focusing on the sounds and beauty of the trail. I asked myself, “would you rather be speeding down Route 9D in a car getting home in just 10 minutes?” I decided that this extra space in my day could be a time to meditate. I re-framed what could have been annoyance with a long wait on the train platform into something that would benefit me.
I didn’t choose to hurry down the trail to get extra sit time on the platform for refreshing my Facebook page or reading the New York Times. I decided to enjoy the time and meditate on the strength of my body at midlife and to commend myself on my commitment to being car-less; despite the bugs, heat, and pain in my foot. I got home with a well-earned hunger for farm fresh tomatoes with burrata cheese and a thirst for a strong iced latte. I started to write that the latte was my reward, but that’s simplistic and incorrect. The reward is that I feel really good about myself for staying committed to doing this different thing; to not having a car.