I have always enjoyed a good walk. Rainy day expeditions, picturesque hikes, romantic strolls: they’re all gold to these feet. Throughout the years, walks have served different purposes for me. In high school, they were a form of escapism. I could decompress after fights with my parents (They just don’t understand me!) and dream about the future. In college, walking became a simple means to get from Pregame A to Party B. With no car, taking to the sidewalks was more of a functional activity than anything else. I certainly wasn’t journeying home from the library at 2 a.m. hopped up on study aids to achieve inner peace.
Now that college is over and I have a trusty Honda, the purpose of my walks has changed yet again. These days, it’s like they were prescribed for the preservation of my mental health. Take once daily to avoid sobbing in the fetal position.
I realized this last weekend while weaving through a neighborhood park, serenaded by the melancholy croons of Rogue Wave’s “Cheaper Than Therapy.” (Song synopsis: music and wine are cheaper than therapy.) I had just weathered a rough, or alternatively, successful, night of bar hopping and reconnecting with old friends. Nothing can lift my spirits quite like laughing with past partners in crime, but I can’t exactly self-actualize by downing vodka cranberries and dancing to Ke$ha.
As I let the crisp weather soak up my hangover, I thought about how time spent unwinding with friends isn’t what has kept me grounded during this tumultuous year. Rather, it was this path under my feet, this calming solitude that was giving me an opportunity to reflect. It’s true that half the fun of your twenties is not having everything figured out, but the other half isn’t fun at all, just anxiety and crippling uncertainty.
Everyone needs a way to deal with these feelings; I’ve found my own cure in soul-searching walks. I happen to agree with Rogue Wave in their sentiment that conventional therapy may be overrated, but I don’t support their substitute of drinking to a soundtrack. For me, a cathartic walk in the park wins out over that substance-abuse-problem-waiting-to-happen any day. Sorry, RW.