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What I Really Know About Long Walks: Never the Same Walk Twice

The AARP Bulletin's "What I Really Know" column comes from our readers. Each month we solicit short personal essays on a selected topic and post some of our favorites in print and online. Below, reader Jimmie Small of Denville, N.J., shares what he really knows about long walks.

I run away from home every chance I get. Actually, at my age, it’s more of a quick walk. After all these years I know to look both ways before crossing the street and—at my wife’s insistence—I always take identification with me just in case that truck she’s talked about for so long finally runs me over.

Somehow, I always manage to find my way home, for in truth I’m not walking away from anything—it’s more like I’m taking a long walk toward something: a new adventure, fresh observations, serendipity at its finest. The lure of the open sidewalk calls, and I must go.

In all my life I’ve never taken the same walk twice. Oh, sure, I’ve trod the same worn paths many times, but I keep a sharp lookout for what is going on around me—and it is what’s going on around me that makes all the difference.

Once I saw a mockingbird relentlessly attack a very large cat, finally driving it under a car where it hid from the wrath of the four-ounce bird. Another time I found an older gentleman lying in the middle of a road where he had fallen. I stayed with him until professional help came and then continued my walk.

Sometimes when I’m walking, people say to me, “Getting your exercise, eh?”

Exercise? Really?

I hadn’t noticed. I was too busy walking.


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