Sunday, 9 March 2008

Drive instead of fly whenever you can. Walk instead of drive whenever you can.

It's simple. Planes and cars cause emissions which contribute to global warming and holes in the sky. We all know this, right? If you don't believe in global warming (which some people don't, and I am not willing to fight about that right now), you cannot deny that both planes and cars create pollution. And pollution is Not a Good Thing. But being enviro-friendly and green is not the only reason to follow this simple rule.

Fact is, unless you literally can't get to where you're going by car (like, there's an ocean in the way), or you really don't have the time to spend (like, you have to be at a wedding in a day and it's on the other side of the world), driving is more fun. You get to follow tangents, accidentally discover cafes and people and natural wonders you may not have even known were there. Roadtrips are the best way to travel, in my not so humble opinion. Don't be in such a hurry. That old axiom about the journey being more important than the destination? Spot on. Curiosity is a sign of an active, intelligent, interested mind. And, let's face it, all airports are essentially the same (I have been in a few in my time, I know), whereas roads aren't. Roads twist and lead to unexpected places. Embracing adventure is always worthwhile. Be curious. Follow your "I wonder where that leads..." musings.

The same is true of walking instead of driving. It may take longer, but you see so much more. You will notice the odd house on the corner that you've driven by a million times without seeing. You'll meet the funny little old lady at the bottom of the road who makes the best cookies this side of the date-line. Plus, it's healthier (hypothetical cookie-making ladies aside). Walking counts as exercise, and if, like me, you are not a fan of exercise, it is a good way to get some without noticing too much. When you walk, you can stop and look at stuff which in a car you don't even register until you've passed. Tiny bookshops. Weird plants.

How does this make the world a better place? Well, there is the obvious green stuff. Reduce your carbon footprint. Reduce emissions. All good things to do. (And, yes, if everyone did it, it would make a difference.) But also, by exercising your natural curiosity, you make yourself a better person. When you're curious, you judge less. You learn that not knowing something is fine. Going to find out is fun. That's how you learn more stuff. Being curious means you listen to stories. You learn more stuff like that too. Plus, going somewhere slower means you're not in such a blasted hurry all the time. You give yourself time for the journey. And that makes for a far less stressed outlook on life. Yes, sometimes you need cream NOW for the meal that has to be ready in an hour, and then you don't have time to stroll to the shop, but giving yourself that time every now and then means you will be in better contact with your world. And that makes a big difference.

Someone who is genuinely curious about the world, and interested, and willing to learn inspires others to be so too. Many people are scared to admit they don't know stuff. That's silly. Everyone has stuff they don't know. Encouraging your natural curiosity will get you past that. You'll realise that learning is more fun than pretending you already know. AND you may help others get over their fear of asking. Or finding out. And, frankly, if we all stopped poncing around pretending to know more than we really do, we'd learn a whole lot more, and be a lot kinder to people who don't know the stuff we do. And the world would be a better place.

So. Your challenge. WALK this week. Walk instead of driving. Just once. Give yourself time to get to where you're going. Don't be afraid to take detours. Or stop and chat to someone. Or have a look at that park you drive past every day. Take the slow route somewhere. See what adventures you can find. Then come back and tell me about it.

No comments: