I had to take my car to the mechanic at 7 AM this morning, which threw off the ol’ routine. I could have just let it go, but I sensed an opportunity to keep my daily exercise and meditation intact in a creative way.

The exercise part was easy: It was still early enough that there would be shade on one side of the street, and I’m always up for a bit of an urban hike. I’ll walk home.

As for meditation, that seemed trickier. I wouldn’t have much time between getting home and starting work. Maybe I’d take half an hour at lunch, or maybe I’d just have to find five- or 10-minute chunks wherever I could.

Meanwhile, there’s an hour left in my walk, and I have no idea what’s been happening for the past 15 minutes of the podcast I put on without a second thought the moment I left the mechanic. I was too distracted by worrying about meditation to pay attention.

This irony sunk in pretty quickly. Clearly, I have not been cultivating my Just Walking practice as much as my Just Sitting. I thought back to the walking periods on my last retreat and remembered how beautiful each step felt. I noticed each bone and muscle and tendon and ligament collaborating to make it happen. Meanwhile, walking in the city, I’m just like a floating ghost of pure information processing while my body runs on autopilot. Time to put the AirPods away and listen to the world!

I wouldn’t say walking from Santa Monica to West LA on Pico Boulevard at 7:30 AM is the most calming meditation I can think of, but it definitely reveals truths about human life.