A chief reason we bought the house we did was walkability. My goal was to be able to walk everywhere. I’ve previously written about my late-in-life commitment to walking and hiking. One of my regrets in life is my dependency on the automobile and all the time I’ve spent in one (including long commutes and being stuck in traffic). At your grandmother’s insistence (smart woman!), this time we were going to live someplace that was highly walkable.
We walked to the movie theatre last evening (our first experience at a cinema brewery, where you can have dinner at your seat). Other places walked this past week or so include the grocery store, optometrist, farmer’s market, drug store, restaurants, coffee shop, dentist, library, city park, bakery, insurance agent, ice cream shop, bank, wine store, post office, brew-pub and Monon Trail. I haven’t yet walked, but could walk, to Whole Foods, the doctor’s office and the hospital. In short, I can walk everywhere — well, just about everywhere.
Walking to your house would be a stretch, Vera, although I could get there by bike. And we have walked farther than that before (at high elevations in the Rocky Mountains no less). The only other two places that require pedals or engine are Home Depot (Lowe’s is closer but Home Depot is so much better) and Costco (the only store, other than Wilbur’s in Fort Collins and Hazel’s in Boulder, that I actually
So what’s the big deal?, you might ask. For me (us, really), it’s a big deal for a couple of reasons.
First, it’s a matter of health. It’s not the only exercise I get (Peloton cycle and free weights in my home exercise room being my main indoor exercise activities), but it’s an important one, especially as we get older.
According to the Mayo Clinic (and common sense), walking helps you:
- Maintain a healthy weight (note above references to ice cream shop, bakery, brew pup and wine store);
- Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes;
- Strengthen your bones and muscles;
- Improve your mood; and
- Improve your balance and coordination.
I’ve also found that it’s good for one’s mental health, creating some space away from work and other things (sometimes, stressful things) that vie for my attention. To that end, I’ve started leaving my iPhone at home during our walks, something I should have done sooner.
Second, it’s a matter of environmental stewardship. It may be a drop in the bucket, but drops add up. Actually, the miles add up. A car sitting in the garage doesn’t contribute to pollution and global warming.
The downside of walking — at least, outside of a dense urban setting — is that it takes longer. But I now have the time — not always, but usually.
So what’s the point of all this, Vera?
Where I live and how much I walk aren’t really of concern to you or anyone else, I would assume.
The point is this: I’ve learned (albeit slowly) that place matters and where we choose to live matters.
There is no one best place for everyone, of course. And the best place may change, depending on the stage of our lives. The best place for you in your 20s may be very different from the best place when you’re in your 70s.
The best place for some people may be an inner city. For others, it may be a remote mountain town. Or alone in the Plains.
I realize not everyone gets to choose. I get that. Being able to choose is a luxury. I am grateful that I have a choice.
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to choose (and naturally I hope you will be), try not to focus so much on the house or apartment. Rather, focus on the place.
The house is part of it, of course. But it’s not all of it. The surroundings are a big part as well.
And consider what the impact will be on your lifestyle and well-being. And whether it will foster or inhibit the activities that are important to you — whether it complements or detracts from the things you value.
It’s no secret that I’d be living in Colorado if it weren’t for family. But I’m incredibly blessed with family, including you, Vera. So, at this time in my life, the place that’s best for me is here.
I can’t hike or bike the Rockies every day.
But I can walk Carmel.
Endlessly. And with an overwhelming sense of gratitude.