What Do You See When You Look Around?

Red Dot Project

At the start of the year I began walking each morning to my Mysore practice. My shala is just a few blocks away from my house, which means my walk takes me through my 100-year-old neighborhood, under live oak trees so overgrown they’ve broken the sidewalks.

The walk to yoga and the walk home after practice has become one of my favorite parts of each day. There is a certain clarity I get during this time. I’m out of my car, away from all the distractions it affords — other traffic, news on the radio, the bustle of getting from place A to place B, not to mention finding a parking space.

I used to ride my bike to UH. It felt like the path less traveled. I got to know the residents of the neighborhoods on my path, who would sit on their porches and wave as I passed. I saw buildings I’d never noticed before. If I had a few extra minutes I’d explore the side streets, deviating from my regular route.

In Amsterdam, I biked everywhere. Most o the time I was in traffic, but on early mornings when I taught, before the thousands of other bikers were out to clog the lanes, I had the same feeling of clarity. Outside the hermetic seal of a vehicle, it was like I was an active participant in my neighborhood, not just a passerby.

There is an ease to these morning walks. I take my time. I let my mind wander. Or let it be silent, if that’s what it wants. I try not to check my phone. I try to be in silence. As a result, I arrive to yoga with what feels like a clean slate.

Last week we had a slight cool front, and the air has felt welcome, not the stifling heat of a usual Houston summer. It’s restorative. Walking to yoga has made me more likely to walk during other parts of my day — to dinner, or to the store. I am grateful and lucky to live in one of Houston’s few walkable neighborhoods.

The walk takes me 10 minutes at most, but often it’s 10 minutes of adventure. A few weeks ago I helped rescue a baby possum from a major intersection, shooing it out of the street with my rolled-up yoga mat. I say hello to every dog on my path (last week I met two new-to-me teacup Yorkies bravely defending their yard). I stop to admire the overgrown wildflowers in a neighbor’s front yard, planted to provide nourishment for the migrating Monarchs that are currently passing through Texas.

Last month I walked past a house I’ve passed thousands of times by car in my 14 years of living in this neighborhood. I know the building because it is part of the Red Dot Project. Heck, I’ve even walked past this house a handful of times without every really looking further. It turns out the house is the headquarters of OutSmart Magazine. I never knew that they were my neighbors.

Sometimes, on my walk home, I’ll feel so good that I want to share that feeling with others. I’ll post a sweaty selfie to my Instagram story, or a pic of a local mural. You can follow me there if you want to come along. Or better yet, take your own walk. Tag me in your story. Let me know what you see when you look around.

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