Life

An Ode to Going for a Walk, the Definitive 2020 Activity

I’m equally reassured by my step count as by the prospect of the vaccine.
December 16, 2020, 8:45am
The author walking in nature, leaves on the ground

This article originally appeared on VICE Germany.

If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that being a pensioner doesn’t seem all that bad.

Now meeting people is off-limits, I often go on long walks – sometimes I even cross my arms behind my back. I take a short break on my way home by the square near my apartment, and just sit there, opposite a group of old men who disinfect their hands before high-fiving each other to say goodbye.

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Not far from my place, there’s a safety equipment company. They have a display in front of the building that reads, “We’ve been working accident-free since X days” (594 as of writing). I often drop by to check that time is actually passing. 

I haven’t taken to the lockdown graciously – in this monotony of endless days and mask pimples, I often don’t feel like myself. But during this second lockdown, I want to be guilt-free about having no plans. If the first lockdown was all about self-improvement, this time it makes sense to do something totally meaningless. 

Walking is the ultimate form of acceptance. I have come to terms with the fact that my everyday activities don’t need a purpose. Sometimes, all I care about is getting the day behind me. Going for a walk, calling the tax office and checking if their hold music is better than the town hall’s, thinking about doing crunches and deciding against it.

Sometimes, I call my grandmother and she tells me what she cooked that day. Sometimes, she sends me cookies in the mail and I ask her what ingredients she put in them, only to instantly forget. 

Walking is the only thing that makes me feel OK. Ten thousand steps against powerlessness. With the infection rates going up and down, I’m glad there are still numbers I can control. I feel like I’m equally reassured by my step count as by the prospects of a vaccine.

When it gets dark, I look into the windows of homes with balconies in my neighbourhood and fantasise about living there. During the day, you can see the stucco moulding on their ceiling through the windows. And when the lights are out, I get upset because the people who live in these beautiful homes have the audacity not to make use of them. 

Now the air in Berlin is so cold at night that I pull the mask over my nose, even though I’m outside and I don’t need to. And actually, going for a walk with a mask on is great: no one can see you lip-sync to “Whole Again” by Atomic Kitten.