Do Something Every Day, Part I: A Walk to the Park

Map to Memorial Park
You can get there from here.

Do something every day. That’s the mantra of my exercise program. I repeat this to people all the time: “If I’m sick, or if I’ve worked an 18‑hour day, or if it’s raining, I put on my shoes and I walk around the block.” Something. Every day. It’s how I satisfy the terms of an imaginary contract that my brain has made with my body.

Today, I found myself without a car. My 10‑year‑old Maxima broke down last night, and this morning, a friend helped me jump‑start it and dump it at the mechanic’s shop. I’ll find out tomorrow what’s wrong and when I can have it back.

Meanwhile, I had to get some exercise.

I like to walk at Memorial Park. I like it so much that I go there nearly every day. I could walk an equivalent amount of time or distance in my neighborhood, but I prefer not to walk on pavement if I can help it. And the park feels like home.

So I cooked up a plan. A friend would be available to join me at the park when she got off work. But she only walks one lap, and I usually go for two times around these days. I fired up Google Maps and plotted a walking course to the park. I memorized the names of the streets where I’d have to make turns. Then I set out, allowing enough time to get to the park ahead of my friend, with some to spare in case the route took me longer than a typical three miles.

Bluebonnet in Memorial Park, February 28, 2010But those three miles seemed to go by faster than a typical 2.9‑mile lap at the park. There was a lot to look at. Although I drive most of that route every day, I don’t see much at 35 miles per hour. Today I saw daffodils and trees in bloom; funky, dilapidated buildings; a place that sells pool tables; and a Baptist church whose sign was written entirely in Spanish. Crossing the field between Interstate 10 and the north entrance to the park, I found a single bluebonnet in bloom. It’s officially spring in Houston! Later, my friend and I would find the first tiny, pink blossom on a fruit tree in the park.

The rendezvous with my friend worked out perfectly. I got to the park and walked about a mile before she arrived to join me. By the time we finished, I’d walked about seven miles in all.

Do something every day. On the days when you’re sick, or tired, or the weather sucks, or you don’t feel much like doing it, or your car is broken down, do something anyway. If you go out and walk around the block, you’ll at least have done something—you’ll have fulfilled a commitment you made to yourself. And on other days, you’ll be rewarded with daffodils and bluebonnets.

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