Every summer in Houston, as the heat rolls in and blankets us with its heaviness, my routine goes through a change. My daily walks shift from early afternoon to mid-morning, to early morning, then disappear altogether. I shut myself in, hiding out from the heat.
Last year, when I reported this to my friend Isabel, she just laughed at me. “Oh, for God’s sakes, get out there!” she said. “It’s not that bad.” Suitably shamed, I resumed my daily treks and discovered that she was right.
This year, I seemed to have made the discovery on my own. Yesterday I said, “Okay, I’m walking. I don’t care how hot it is. I need to move.” I went into the Rice Village, which is a 30-minute walk from my home, had some wine and cheese, and walked home. And I was reminded that “it wasn’t that bad.”
Walks bring me sanity and calm, even more than my regular yoga practice. Walks invite ideas and solutions to problems. I often walk between tasks so I can bring a new perspective to the next item on my to-do list. Yes, the exercise is nice, but that’s not why I walk. I walk because I write, and walking makes me a better writer. I slow down. I look at the trees and the squirrels. I listen to the sounds of the day and smell the newly mowed grass. I reconnect to a more primal rhythm. I return refreshed and invigorated.
As I walked, I also reminded myself that there is never a “right” time to do anything. I walked in the worst heat of the day, my arms and legs fluid, my breath shifting and deepening. I walked because I needed to. I feel the same way about my writing. Sometimes a bright, shiny object pulls my attention away, always something seemingly more important to do, so I step away from time to time–only to return because I need to. Walking, breathing, writing–life.