This is a guest post by my colleague and friend, Rob Dixon.
In our neighborhood, we are known as the family that walks.
Some think we’re crazy and others admire us. All of them see us and every day our reputation grows. We walk when it’s warm. We walk when it’s cold. We walk when we’re early, rushed, or on time. We walk in a pack or in smaller groups. Sometimes we take the long way, other times we take the shorter route. And it’s not uncommon to see us speed-walking like Olympians (’cause when you’re a competitive family of six, no one wants to be the last one to the corner).
Heck, to others it must seem like our goal is to drive as little as possible.
Come to think of it, they’re right.
In his book Never Mind the Joneses, Tim Stafford articulates the idea of a “family culture.” He writes,
“Family culture creates the wonderful sense of relaxation we get inside our own four walls…Here, and only here in the heart of the family, does everybody understand. Here we have a sense of freedom to be just who we are.”
So let it be said: who we are is a family of walkers. It’s our culture. It’s our nature. In fact, a few years back, we voluntarily downsized to one car. Later, we did a week without a car. By choice. And we liked it.
Walking as much as possible gives our family a few amazing opportunities.
First, it makes us healthier.
It’s about a mile from our school to our home and back. And it’s a mile each way to our neighborhood Panera. When we went that week without the car, I bet our then 5 year old trooped her way through about 20 miles.
Second, it reminds us to be good to the earth.
Opting out of driving allows us to teach our kids the value of environmental stewardship.
Third, it helps us remember how much we have.
After all, not everyone has a car. In fact, worldwide, it’s estimated that only 9% of people own a car. When we walk, then, we remind ourselves both that we are very blessed and that others in the world are not.
Fourth, it saves us money.
On gas. On wear and tear. Let’s face it, it’s not easy to live simply in American culture, but choosing to do so is one small way to keep the creeping American materialism at bay.
Fifth, it slows us down.
Culture preaches a gospel of instant efficiency, and walking pushes against that.
Sixth, we get to meet people.
I counted the other morning, and between my six walks to and from school, I waved to 18 different people. We’ve found that there’s nothing like walking to help you meet your neighbors.
Finally, and most importantly, it brings us closer together as a family.
Because when we’re driving from school to home, we get about 90 seconds of low quality conversation. But when walk, we get 10 solid minutes to talk. And it may not seem like it, but an extra 8:30 of quality family communication really means something. It’s the difference between:
“How was school?” “Fine”
and “How was school?” “Fine” “Really? Tell me what was ‘fine’ about it…”
So I say let the neighbors think we’re crazy. (Click here to tweet this.)
Because I’ve got seven reasons why I think crazy is precisely the right way to be. (Click and tweet if you agree.)
How are you (with or without a family) crazy in the right way? Leave a comment below.