As stated in my previous blog entry, entitled, “Hi, my name is Kara, and I am a walking addict,” I enjoy walking. I enjoy walking to the point of pain in my heels and spasms in my toes. I walk because I can, and I walk because I want to. I walk to feel good; I walk to reflect. Some walks have end points while some never run out of battery. I walk to get from here to there; I choose to walk. Over any other form of transportation, though it takes twice as long to get to my destination, walking is my weapon of choice. However, the choice to walk has taken an obligatory and injurious stance of late. Part of the reason I walk so religiously is due to not having a vehicle to transport myself around town, my own private Idaho and love bug where I can blast my music to a more-than-reasonable volume, singing to the top of my lungs with my windows rolled up (or down, if you want to be ostentatious). My very own four-wheeled umbrella to shelter me from the rain. A place to escape to when there is no escape, and you have to get out of the house just to feel like you're in control of something (probably better than trying to control people). A place to go when your roommate tells you he loves you while on seven different medications and three different types of alcohol. Perhaps getting into your vehicle at two in the morning in order to feel safe and protected is the optimal solution. Walking will not get you very far at that point and not very fast. Sometimes one just wants to take a drive and feel the fresh air on their face. Sometimes one doesn't have the time to walk and has to get somewhere quickly. Sometimes one doesn't want to reflect on life and get in “dream” mode. Sometimes one wants to lend a helping hand to a stranded soul in need of a ride (this has been me the past six months) just be the Good Samaritan (thank you everyone for your kindness). C'mon, doesn't it feel amazing to bring someone to their desired location, especially if it's a cool party they invite you to attend with them, and you're carpooling at the same time (It feels good to Go Green!)? Sometimes you may decide that living in your car is a more affordable and comfortable option... Save money in this economy? Hell-to-the-yes! I think you get the point. Having a vehicle that you can call your own has its pluses.

However, now I am going to confess something shameful to you; I might as well tell you after my whole pro-automobile slant. Okay, here goes: I, Kara, the “walking addict”, have not gone on a pleasure walk for several weeks [here's where you scream in disbelief]! I'm talking about a walk without stress and baggage, a walk that only involves two things- me and my dreams. Well, music, too. I'm talking about one where I can close my eyes and reflect on the beauty and mystery of life- an epiphany pace and intuitive mind race. Not having a car and needing to get places- the grocery store, a coffee shop, work, interviews, the bus stop, and school- has made walking more of a chore, and I'm growing weak at the knees, literally. A bit of negativity towards the pedestrian profession has arisen within me. Believe me, I am not happy about this recent blooming. In fact, I feel like I'm turning against my very dear friend.

Carrying a necessary change of clothes, a laptop, chargers, a mound of flashcards (I'm academic!), a journal, and a purse, simultaneously, places quite a heavy, burdening load on one's, almost always sweaty, back. Not only do I find myself wanting a chiropractor (been there, done that), I am always rushing and stuffing, or is it stuffing and rushing? Stuffing things into a bag, then rushing out the door, never quite prepared with all the necessary provisions. The other day, I forgot my deodorant and my cell phone charger. So, I stunk, and my phone died. I don't always know what my schedule is for the day either; that's right. Perhaps I get a hot date all of a sudden or want to be spontaneous and go dancing at the club inconveniently situated miles away from home? I need to have a dynamo dance ensemble and shoes with height in my bag! Today I packed for the gym and didn't end up going. That's a ton of stuff I could have avoided. I also break out all over my body, depending on the area in which the bag falls- typically my right shoulder and back. Is there a sign on my back that says, “Welcome to pimpledom! Enjoy your stay!”? I don't think so!

Okay, I know what you're all thinking: Stop complaining, and take the bus. Spend the $2.25. Or ride the sad and lonely bike you have sitting out in the backyard (all it wants is some lovin' from your behind). Or keep bugging people for rides. Or get a used car. Or move to a city that does not ostracize pedestrians. Yes, yes...I know. That's not the issue right now. The issue I am suffering from is that I am supposed to be the girl that walks, the one that would rather walk across the U.S. if she could (could I?) than ride in a car. The girl that give non-walkers a glimpse of hope. Yet this recent negativity is becoming a problem and could soon reach a point where I become numb to the benefits of the drug. This internal battle could soon get out of control.

So, I must neglect the neck and back pain; I must put aside the stress and woes and think of the positives. Perhaps practice mobile meditation. Or come up with a wicked top ten list that states why walking is superior to driving any day of the week. So, that's what I did. Granted, it's not perfect. However, if this list will help me walk one more hour, one more day, for the rest of my life, it's worth a try. I hope any of you pseudo walkers or stressed-out hoofers can get some inspiration and pride from this list.

Kara's Top Ten Reasons to Walk vs. Drive:

  1. Your legs don't hurt from sitting and doing nothing; they actually hurt from exercising.

  2. If a driver gets cross with you for walking too slowly, just smile to yourself and know that you are the one exercising, and they are the lazy ones.

  3. You don't get pulled over for jaywalking (though speedwalking can be considered dangerous).

  4. You are forced to plan your time more effectively; time management is crucial while walking (to the bus stop, etc.).

  5. You pack only what you need (unless you are a bag lady like me). You must learn to minimize! This, in turn, helps you pack for trips of any kind. Carry-ons only!

  6. You don't rely on a GPS or iPhone to get you where you need to go; instead, you rely on the PPS (Pedestrian Point System) and acquire ample Street Smarts.

  7. You are always ready to walk (and ne're will you complain)- when hiking, traveling, on road trips, at amusement parks/zoos, in airports, in subway stations, on stairs, in parking garages, at home, etc.

  8. You interact more with other humans; you can almost touch another human's shoulders! And you have time to focus on a “hello” or smile rather than a stop sign or stoplight.

  9. You have the right-of-way, or at least you should.

  10. No hit-and-runs! Well, runs perhaps.

- Kara Hayes

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