I heard Ian Rankin talking on the radio toady. He’s just written a book that he wanted to call “A9” after the road on which it’s based. The message he was trying to get across is that a lot goes on that you don’t notice, or even look for on a journey. So often the focus is on the destination rather than the route.
I can relate to this. My day always feels better when I take the train. This could be because of the fresh air and gentle exercise I get on the walk to the station, or it could be because I’m only responsible for sitting on the train – I don’t have the stress of driving (it’s not me, it’s everyone else on the road), or it could be because of the people you see, the ones you notice every time and because you can notice things like the progress to the extension on the house on the left just after the bridge, a different ticket officer, the fact that the cows are the far side of the field.
I always feel proud that I notice these things because somehow it feels as if I’m validating them: they become real, they become part of my day.
It’s the same when I cycle, run or walk. Not only do you become more aware of things – exactly how many hills there are around here – and you get to feel a connection. I couldn’t help but smile at a goldfinch sitting on a fence as I walked past. I wouldn’t have noticed it in the car, it might not have been there even.
So perhaps it does make a real difference. If you’re in doubt and have a choice, take the slow route, notice the small things, smile and be part of a place.