I have always been a walker, for as long as I can remember.
Born to parents both from poor Dublin families, a car was, both in their youth and in mine, something of a luxury. And so we walked. My father, as a young sales representative, had a beat up car that got him from A to B, but my mother, my elder brother and I were left to walk until years later, when my mother learned to drive.
And though she loved her little mini car, her youthful walking days remained with her, and so we often went walking for pleasure. Only an hour’s drive from the countryside, we would escape Dublin every Sunday to go driving – until we reached where we were going, and would get out and walk.
But like most teenagers finding their way in the world, I rebelled against this family tradition, and spent a few years rolling my eyes in disdain whenever the pointless exertion of walking was suggested. Until, that is, like many teenage girls, I became aware of my developing female form, and began to undertake whatever methods I had to keep it under control.
And so walking became a sort of self-torture for me – I would walk until I couldn’t walk anymore, until I was close to passing out.
I walked all the joy from this former pleasure, until I became so thin that my doctor told me that my regimented programme was likely to lead my twenty-something heart into cardiac arrest.
I was anorexic for a number of years, and each walk I took could have been my last. But there is also something so therapeutic about walking that as I began to slowly recover, I tried to keep my habit of walking alive. And I believe that it repaid the favour, and helped keep me alive, too.
I firmly believe that there is very little that a good walk cannot cure.
Times when I felt so hopeless, so useless, I would find the strength to get moving, to simply stroll around my neighbourhood until optimism returned. And by introducing me back to life again, by sharing with me the beauties of nature, the simple joy of watching children play, of life rolling on as usual, walking gave me back my hope.
These days I am at a healthy weight, and I eat well, enjoying my food. And I continue to walk daily. Some days I power walk to build up a sweat and get my adrenaline going, other days I stroll around my community, thinking about the people I pass by, and what could have become of me had I not taken a better path.
There are so many people who enjoy walking today, breathing in deeply the many health benefits it affords, and the peace of mind it offers. I always wonder what others think as they walk their way about their business. And I always think the same thing – that I am glad to be alive to enjoy the experience.
Walking Testimony Contributed to DiscoverWalking.com by Fiona Condron