Some people like to work out alone and others prefer to watch TV or listen to music; I like to exercise in company. Not that solitude doesn’t play a role in my life. Writer and poet May Sarton explains the benefits of the solitary life. “There is no doubt that solitude is a challenge and to maintain balance within it a precarious business. But I must not forget that, for me, being with people or even with one beloved person for any length of time without solitude is even worse. I lose my center. I feel dispersed, scattered, in pieces. I must have time alone in which to mull over my encounter, and to extract its juice, its essence, to understand what has really happened to me as a consequence of it.”
But for me, there’s no room for solitude while exercising. I take great pleasure in having walking companions who can share information, knowledge, life experiences and, especially, good stories.
Today I set a personal exercise record: I’ve walked twenty miles in the past five days and I doubt that I would have done it without friends. Three of us walk together regularly, though, depending on schedules, some days we travel in twos. We began our regimen this week by commenting on the weather and our surroundings: the new warmth that lets us leave home hatless and gloveless, the birds, cherry trees in full bloom, the view of the top one-sixth of Mt. Rainier, and the variety of sizes and breeds of dogs walking their owners.
We then trampolined from topic to topic, changing these every few minutes. During my twenty miles we covered time spent on Facebook (for me, not much), recipes, new sources of ingredients, research on behaviors that help marriages last, ailing family members and friends, good news, high school reunions, communicating with aging relatives, and hysterically funny personal experiences.
Fresh air, friends and fitness. What better way to start the day.