I walked, once, from a few blocks from the Campanile (that bell / clock tower you see in the blue hazy distance) to a few blocks from where this picture was taken - about four and a half miles.
It seemed like a reasonable idea at the time. I didn't have a driver's license for the entirety of the time I spent living in this area, so most of my solo travel involved public transportation.
Much of the public transportation was underground, so I would emerge from the tunnels with an understanding of the immediate radius of the station, but not so much a clear understanding of how those radii connected to each other.
On this particular day, I realized that I not only knew precisely where I was, but I also could envision all of the connecting streets between my present location and my destination.
Knowing how to get from point A to point B makes public transportation obsolete, right? I'm pretty sure that was the rationalization I made to myself.
Things I had going for me: My understanding of my route was accurate, it was a lovely day, it was nearly 100% downhill, and I had no deadlines. Things I failed to consider: I had no water or sunblock, I was wearing flip-flops, I had already been walking around downtown Berkeley all day, and I had no realistic concept of the distance involved.
Parts of the route were quite lovely in their city way; Telegraph, Shattuck, and Solano Avenues are great for people-watching. Henry and Sutter Streets have broad, leafy trees. Mostly, though, I realized pretty early on that I should have just taken the bus.
I arrived at my destination sunburned, dehydrated, exhausted, and with sore feet. Also, I had nothing to show for it. So what if I walked? It wasn't so great a distance that it actually mattered. The dollar or so I saved in bus fare wasn't significant enough to mean anything. I got no sympathy for my exhaustion. Nobody cared. Nobody even really noticed.
Therein lies the lesson, the thing I can take away from that walk, and from subsequent instances in which I have decided it might just be easier to walk. It's not easier physically, but it's a form of catharsis that makes sense to me.
When the "easy" way will get me there too fast, the journey too banausic. When I'm not ready to be at my destination, but I know I have to go. When I want to take the time to see every step of my journey, no matter how many steps it might take. When I need to organize my thoughts before I get there, or before I get anywhere.
Little things happen along the way, which remind me of little other things, which remind me of still more little things, and I can't help but smile at how all things truly are connected. Nobody could possibly follow along with all the leaps my thoughts make as I walk. Even walking next to me and seeing what I saw, a companion could not comprehend how the scene before us translated in my mind to the interconnectedness of the universe.
So, I arrive, sunburned and sweaty, thirsty and tired. And grinning.
What took you so long?