You can find the map for today’s 6.33 mile walk here. 47 days until the Congestion Zone Ends Party! Follow on Twitter for more updates.
I’ve mentioned in the last posts that I was feeling really overwhelmed and had to take some time out to regroup. A big part of that process has been working on the practice of mindfulness, the idea that you can be aware of your thoughts as thoughts, not as driving forces or impulses you must act on.
That perspective has been really helpful for me but, as it turns out, it is process that involves practice and I am the most impatient person I know.
Despite it being an absolutely gorgeous day when I was getting ready for this walk, I was really struggling to get out the door. The walk the day before had been so nice and I had been so excited about sharing it that I worried this walk would be boring and uninteresting. It wasn’t, after all, the buzzing heart of London that Soho is nor does it have the charm of Carnaby Street. It is just a standard part of London. Nothing special.
Those same worries I used to get before my walks started creeping up: what if I find absolutely nothing to talk about? What if the things I find interesting aren’t what everyone else cares about?
I debated not going. Maybe it was just not the right day for it. Maybe it was my gut telling me I needed to stay home for some unknown reason. Maybe I was preventing some catastrophic fate by staying home and sitting on the couch feeling despondent all day.
I started thinking about a trek I went on in Nepal a couple of years ago. When we got to a really high altitude, even when the ground was nearly flat, walking was exhausting. We’d stop for breathers all the time and when we finally decided to get going again the first step was the hardest of any step before it on the trek. Every single time.
But after we mustered up the energy to take that first step, we were moving again and it was easier to keep moving than it was to start. I think about that a lot when I need motivation to start something, so I figured today was a good moment for it. Cheesy as it may sound, I forced myself to get my shoes on and take one step out of the house.
I was grumpy and worried the whole walk to the bus stop, grumpy and worried the whole bus ride to Oxford Street, and grumpy and worried for the first half a mile or so of the walk.
Then suddenly I found things that made me curious and I explored them. I followed my feet where they wanted to go. I took in the sights and sounds around me, and I forgot that I was supposed to be grumpy and worried or that I was supposed to write an amazing post at the end of it.
I remembered that, as much as I love you all, these walks are not for you. They are not for me to gather great thoughts to inspire you or to amaze you with incredible hidden gems that have been right under your nose this whole time.
“If you stroll down that alley that smells like a urinal, knock three times on the faded grey door and spell your name backwards to the attendant, you’ll enter a magical underground wonderland you never knew existed! Tada!”
These walks are for me.
They are a time for me to be curious and to enjoy the experience exploring London.
They are for me to stop and talk to a telephone technician who has better things to do than answer my questions about what he is doing and how but who obliges me anyway.
For me to catch up with the manager of my favourite café while sipping the most delicious spiced chai I have ever had in my life.
For me to stroll through galleries, feeling a little snooty that a) I know what Rococo is and b) I’m so over it.
For me to smile when I walk into St. Christopher’s Place having recently learned that he is neither a saint nor a Christopher.
And for me to watch the bunting blow in the breeze because I love it.
For me to bask in the glow of colour, colour and more colour in a stationery shop because I have had an addiction to paper since I can remember and colour makes me happier than most things in life.
For me to let samples of coconut chocolate slowly melt on my tongue while I walk through Selfridges.
While I think of all the possibilities this Chocolate Library concept really has to offer the world.
And for me to feel connected to the many other people who are out enjoying the city and letting London (and the sun) soak into them on an incredibly beautiful day.
I realised that my only obligation on these walks is to enjoy them. To experience them as fully as I can in every moment that I can.
And my only obligation to you is to share the love I have for this place so that it might inspire you to get your shoes on, take that first step out the door and see where your curiosity takes you.
See you next time!
47 days until the Congestion Zone Ends Party! Follow on Twitter for more updates.
Quick update from the future: now that this project is finished, I’m off on another adventure! Keep in touch on my new blog at Three Miles an Hour. See you there!