Unlearning to Walk



January 28, 2018

“Be careful.”

“Look both ways”

“Watch the traffic”

How many times as a child, hand held tightly by my older more traveled caregivers, had I heard those cautionary words uttered.

Now, 50 some odd years later, as I walked purposefully from point A to point B, I followed all of those instructions especially making sure to always keep my eye on the traffic. until…my aha moment. Why was I watching the traffic? Why was I watching the streets, the cars passing back and forth, so intently when I was walking down the sidewalk with no streets to cross or no street signs to take notice of as I walked? A street I’d been down a hundred times before. Then that phrase, “Watch the traffic.” came into my head and over the years I had conditioned myself to literally watch the traffic. So I gave my head the proverbial shake, slowed my pace and looked away from traffic trusting that the vehicles careening down the street would stay on the streets and not barrel up onto the sidewalk that I, now, walked down carefree and easy. It was a beautiful spring day. The mid-day sun was warm and soothing. Funny I hadn’t much noticed this before this point. As I turned my head I saw a beautiful little patch of garden. Tulips and daffodils and hyacinth in brilliant colours. The soil around it was damp from a fresh water. I noticed the neatly tailored lawns of the houses and how the landscaping accentuated aspects of the properties. Then I spied the trunk of a cherry tree and followed it up to the fluffy pink blossoms dancing at the end of the branches. I never realized what I beautiful neighborhood I lived in before. I walked on right past my own apartment simply drinking in the beauty and the freshness and the exhilarating feeling I was getting from just walking. It dawned on me why I had never enjoyed walking before. My lesson of unlearning, “Watch the traffic,” had actually taught me a lesson. To walk in a way I had never walked before. A new and exciting way. A way that I will enjoy hopefully for many years to come. So I know it’s been said many times different ways but if you’re a pedestrian DON’T JUST WATCH THE TRAFFIC. Stop and admire the cherry blossoms dancing on the end of the branches.

Erin Phelan Fletcher



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