So, I’ve recently restarted my daily constitutional routine.
A constitutional, in the way I’m using the word here, is a daily outside walk meant to aid Your constitution―that is, Your health. Whether that’s physical health, mental health, emotional health, or spiritual health is up to the person doing the walking. It’s a habit I picked up from some Romantic period and Transcendentalist authors (Specifically Wordsworth and Coleridge, and Emerson and Thoreau).
I’d fallen off the habit in January; All at once I was dealing with a depressive episode spurred by my current living situation, a pair of skin issues that made physical activity unpleasant, and a burn out from trying to exercise too heavily too quickly. Not a good scene, really. It was kind of a hard month for me.
So, I cut the diet back, took some time off from my constitutionals and weight lifting, and focused on my emotional health for a while. I’ve decided I’d like to move out to Pittsburgh. I saw my doctor and made sure I’m taking care of myself. I got closer to a lot of my friends.
And today, the 25th of February, I finally started doing my constitutionals again.
It feels so good to be outside again, back among the trees and puddles. Walking without a specific purpose other than to specifically be there, now, is something I both treasure greatly in my life… and something that it’s easy for me to forget about, once I no longer regularly indulge in it.
I did choose to play some music as I walked, but I didn’t bring my headphones, so it was quiet and in my pocket the whole time. If I’m going to listen to music while I walk, this is my favorite way to do it―provided there’s no other people around. If there’s a crowd where I’m walking, I prefer headphones for sure.
The song I chose today was one that’s very important to me: Close to the Edge, by Yes. In the introduction to the first movement, there’s a layering of “environmental tape” sounds collected by Jon Anderson―Bird chatter, rushing water, wind noises, all mixed together to fade well into the chaotic opening of the piece. It’s something I want to emulate in some of my own pieces, when I finally record them.
I chose the song when, listening around me as I left my car, I was struck by the sounds around me: the rains were calming down, but the little rivers they left behind in the distance played off of the birds anxiously anticipating spring in the trees bordering the park. The combination made me think twice about putting on music at all, but clinched which song I’d listen to, in the end. It was very powerful, to me.
I also stopped to take some photos using my phone, which I have up on Imgur, now. As usual, they fail to really capture the experience of walking out among these scenes… But I still enjoy how they came out.
I think my biggest mistake with regard to my constitutionals was my change to consider it to be “cardio” to supplement my workouts. I benefit most from these walks through the experience, rather than from the exercise the experience provides. While I do enjoy the fact that it’s good for my physical health, I definitely benefit from it more in my emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Physical is at the bottom of the list.
For a few weeks before I’d stopped, I’d been sleeping so late in the day that I’d get up and rush out to the park after the sun had already set. I’d power through a quick and fast walk in order to get some cardio in. Stopping to look around me, or be here now, was out of the question―not just because it was too dark for me to see anything, but also because it would have slowed my pace too much.
That pretty much killed them, for me. They became a chore I slogged through, instead of a habit I cherished. Something I’ll have to keep in mind, going forward.
I highly recommend incorporating constitutionals into Your daily routine, if You can do so safely. Even if You get something completely different out of them from me, I’m sure You won’t regret having taken time out to just be outside.Categories: Life
Tags: walking  music  nature