I needed this walk Sunday. For more than a month, I had been mostly pinned up inside my house either on self-quarantine or state-sanctioned quarantine. Both kept me from going out and getting my 10,000 steps.
I’d almost forgotten how much joy a carefree walk can do. I bundled up against the spring chill, put on red-and-black Nike sneakers and headed out for the fresh air I’d missed.
Oh, and I put on a face mask.
The latter has proved the biggest adjustment I’ve been forced to make when I became a national statistic in early March: a positive for the coronavirus.
I could do nothing while holed up in my house, planted there like a floor lamp 10 feet in front of a TV set. With remote control in hand, I had nothing else I could do beyond switching among Netflix, Amazon Prime and Spectrum cable.
While playing a hermit, I watched more television than I had over the eight months. I became acquainted with series and documentaries I never knew existed. And, please, don’t get me started on “Tiger King.”
I had no interest, however, in much of this mindless entertainment. Since I left my professor’s gig at Ohio University on May 15, I’ve been focused on traveling. I’ve tried to crisscross the globe, stopping in places like China, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Costa Rica, Mexico and Colombia. Throw in two trips to New York City and four trips to Las Vegas, and I’ve picked up more frequent-flyer miles on Delta than most people have hair.
My plans for 2020 were to put more stamps on my passport. I’d looked into going to Africa, a continent I’ve never seen. I had several countries there high on my wish list, and South Africa sat at the top of it.
Plans in life often change, and mine did immediately after I discovered I had the coronavirus. Travel didn’t mean as much. On my mind was a singular thought: try to get well.
The best I could do was follow the advice of my doctor, who parroted what the Centers for Disease Control was telling everybody else. He stressed “social distancing,” words that sat well with me. I mean, I couldn’t be much fun for friends the way I felt.
I thought about that, too. The coronavirus made me think of what I should be doing with friends, and it reminded me of how uncertain tomorrow is. So make the most of today, embrace friendships and find enjoyment in the little things.
A long, brisk walk was one of those things. Walks have always allowed me to stretch my mind, to think big and small thoughts, and to plot whatever future I have ahead of me.
I did all of that on my walk Sunday. While I didn’t hit my “usual” 10,000 steps, I’m good with the 8,100 steps I did take. I got a deeper look at how the virus has slowed the pace of life in my neighborhood.
The streets were mostly empty, and I had the sidewalks all to myself. Not that it mattered, because I wasn’t trying to bump into anybody else in carving a random route through the neighborhood.
What I did try to do was get some much-needed exercise. I did, and it felt great.