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Why Not Walk to Work?

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 “The more we walk, the closer we get,” wrote SAGE President Paco Rodriguez in a blog chronicling his 156-mile backpacking trip with his daughter on the Camino de Santiago last summer.

April 1 is National Walk to Work Day. For many of us, walking to work sounds like a good idea. But actually doing it? We quickly dismiss the idea—it's too far, too difficult, too time consuming.

SAGE's President Paco Rodriguez thought that, too, until he started walking to work about a year ago to train for a backpacking trip on the Camino de Santiago. Walking for 10 days straight on rugged terrain is no joke. About three months before the trip, Paco knew he had to get serious about training. “I would tell myself that I was ready for the Camino,” he says, “and then I'd remind myself that it's different to do 12 or 13 miles day after day.” So, on the weekends, he challenged himself—a six-miler with 20 pounds of weights here, a 12-miler with a full pack to Fort McHenry there. During the week, it seemed natural to walk to work, a solid seven miles.

Paco's wife, Tina, SAGE's co-founder and CFO, often joined him on these walks. In Baltimore's stifling heat and humidity, walking to work almost always guarantees better conditions than walking home. So, they'd plan ahead. Sometimes they'd leave a car at work in advance. Other times, they'd get a lift back home. It wasn't always easy. The city, with hit-or-miss sidewalks and distracted drivers, isn't known for its “walkability.” But it was enlightening.

Walking to work opened their eyes to the details that whizzed by them as motorists who had traveled this route for years. They noticed the blooms of thoughtfully planted perennial gardens, and the vibrant green moss that grew on neglected brick houses. They noticed the lovely outdoor seating at a restaurant perched on the corner of one of the city's busiest intersections, and the “regulars” who gathered there. Their walk put their hometown into focus, and gave them an appreciation for the observations that can only occur at a slower pace.

Many at SAGE House were amazed when Paco would walk in on hot June mornings, sweating and carrying his work essentials on his back. For him, walking to work became more than just a mile marker for Camino training. It was a chance to be present before the day started. And even though the Camino has come and gone, he's still walking to work. Just yesterday, he came in, pack on his back, looking exhilarated.

Paco wrote this in his blog after completing the Camino: “For me, one lesson was to let go...You've just got to have faith that things will work out. And, they always do.”

So that walk to work might not be such an implausible idea. Consider giving it a try—or just a walk around the block at lunch. You'll get a new perspective on a familiar place, and you may be surprised by what works out as a result.

Camino de Santiago


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