Oh, me. What have I done?
It was a typical Monday morning. I woke up about 6, crawled out of bed and walked directly to the kitchen to get my coffee started. While it brewed, I parked myself in front of my computer and started scrolling through my clients’ social media pages, then turned my attention to the emails which had come in the evening before.
Click, trash, click, trash click, trash. I dumped all the emails until I came across one from Air Canada whose subject line read, “Beijing or Shanghai $672.”
Neither Beijing nor Shanghai, nor China really, had ever been on my bucket list but $672 spoke to me. I could manage that. I clicked open the email to make sure it was legit—and it was—so I googled both Beijing and Shanghai. Images of those cities’ skylines came up and there was no comparison. Shanghai’s incredibly innovative skyline wowed me. And that’s how I chose my next city to walk.
That decision was made back in July and I’ve been almost embarrassed to tell anyone about my upcoming trip. Feeling irresponsible maybe. Impulsive. A bit self-indulgent? Yes, all of the above.
“BUT,” I remind myself, “walking cities pulls me out of my own stale comfort zone and forces me to think more creatively, more worldly!” It benefits my work in marketing. I’ve brought home ideas from France, for instance, where “ads aim at the heart, not the wallet,” quoting the New York Times. It was while riding the subways under Manhattan that I realized New Yorkers digest their media differently than we do here in Atlanta. And not until I spent time in the country of Panama did I change the way I marketed my retail client. The Hispanic community generally shops in families versus me, who typically shops alone.
Walking new places also removes my singularly-focused lens and forces me to see the world through others’ perspectives. Never would I have stopped and really tried to understand the crisis in Syria until I saw, firsthand, real-life refugees pouring off a bus in Athens, Greece. Never would I have sensed the kinship between we Christians and Muslims had I not walked the streets in Istanbul, especially during Ramadan. Not until I watched a young Mexican father emerge from a tiny dirt-floor hut and walk his daughter to school did I see the gift in living a much simpler and less hectic life.
Yes, I’ve decided to listen to my impish little inner voice and quit trying to subdue this urge to travel. I will continue walking cities as long as these old legs will carry me. In return for this privilege I feel a responsibility to share what I find. If you’d like to walk along with me on my next trip, just CLICK HERE.
(Later this week: The obstacles I’ve faced preparing for my first trip to a Communist country)