I am a true introvert in that I could contentedly spend an entire day inside my apartment. If I have a yoga mat, something to to write in, food to cook, and a bit of work to do,(1) I can find ways to entertain myself for an entire day without ever stepping outside my door.
And I admit that I used to revel in doing so. I didn't like hanging out in the ether--I think I was a little afraid of it. (2) But somewhere along the line, I learned to fall in love with entire places through the act of putting foot to pavement. Maybe it was the mile walk to campus from my apartment in college, or the way Leah, Morgan, Anja and I learned to wander the steps of Europe on my first travel experience as an adult, or perhaps it was a lesson birthed from the unhappiness I felt sitting in my desk job when we returned from the trip. (3) On the weekends, I learned to seize the time I was denied during my week’s stringent schedule--I’d wander Echo Park Lake, Runyon Canyon, Barnsdale Park, LACMA--and feel joy at the act of moving my body. This was one of the reasons I decided to leave that job in the city and explore the world. I wanted to be experiencing it more than just on Saturday and Sunday.
Over the last few years, as I’ve lived in in more walkable cities, with more free time to do so, and thanks to the presence of services like Grab (4) to help me out in a pinch, I’ve gotten the chance to walk so many new places. In Vietnam, I don’t have a consistent motorized form of transportation, forcing myself to be dependent on my feet to do daily tasks and explore. I walk to the market, and to the Old Quarter, and around the Lake for fun. My patamobile, as my fabulous college roommate Sara refers to her feet (5), has gotten me pretty freakin’ far these days. And my life is richer for it.
Do I still, with my introvert tendencies, get the desire to have stretches of Netflix binges and lazy days? Yes, but I grow tired of them a lot quicker now. The more I stick around in bed, watching Netflix, getting lost in a click hole, exploring the most fascinating corners of the web, even doing something productive like working or writing from the comfort of my own home, the less I ultimately have to write about, or draw, or think about, or say. When I’m being productive, I’m taking walks--with friends wandering around my college campus, as I circumvent temples in monasteries in Nepal, up and down the busy beaches of Haad Rin, or through narrow alley ways in the capitol of Vietnam.
The photo below was taken a few days ago, during the Tet Holiday. The occasion marks the first time I've ever had any desire to run. And I did it, for a couple of minutes. Maybe next time I'll run a couple more.
After all, foot to pavement is the path to inspiration.
1. Perhaps if I’m being honest, internet to procrastinate on.....
2. This probably came from the whole, "Being afraid of my body," thing which I've talked about here and here.
3. Lessons are learned from both positive and negative reinforcement, as we saw in number 5.
4. Asia’s response to Uber and Lyft.
5. “Pata” means “feet” in Spanish, and her Mexican mother used to jokingly mock their request for rides places with suggestions of using them.