Originally published February 19, 2021.
Hey, it’s me: Short Afternoon Walk. As you may have noticed, you’re all turning to me an awful lot these days. Don’t get me wrong, I love what we have together, but I think we need to face the truth: I can never be everything you want me to be.
When this little routine first started, I thought it was the greatest thing in the world. I was an escape. I was an adventure. I was beloved. But somewhere along the way, I became your everything.
Now, I’m both your leisure activity and your only form of exercise. I’m the last thing tethering you to reality, yet your only way of escaping it. I’m the singular effort you make to maintain your sanity, and your sole means of experiencing joy, hope, and happiness. It feels as if I’m your lover, friend, and therapist all wrapped into one and, frankly, it’s making me uncomfortable.
Personally, I think I’ve held up my end of the deal quite well. I’m there every time you need me. I’m literally always an option. I don’t know if you know this, but you can even have me at other times of the day. For example, have you tried the morning?
Perhaps, instead of rolling up to your email inbox in a sleepy, hurried rage, you could first project your hopes and dreams onto a morning walk? I hear morning walks are a great way to extend the bliss of forgetfulness you experience in the first few moments of waking up and delay the vague, gnawing sense of impending doom.
But let’s get back to the root of the problem here. I am but a simple afternoon walk. You are a human person with complex feelings and emotions like fear and boredom, not to mention a very real depression that you only seem to be acknowledging through tweets. And you want us both to believe that I can address these things with magical powers?
I’ll let you in on a little secret, pal: I have no magical powers. I never have. This isn’t an imposter syndrome thing either, so don’t even start with the, “Oh, come on, everyone knows how magical and talented you are!” I’m telling you right now, for real, I have no magical powers.
I’ve gotta say it feels like even the things I can do for you aren’t enough anymore. How quickly you seem to have forgotten that I actually am a stress reliever and an energy booster. I shoot endorphins throughout your brain like a confetti cannon, for crying out loud. Don’t even get me started on the way I fight off heart disease — but you never think about that anymore, do you?
Anyway, forget it. I know things are hard right now. Really, I get it. But might I remind you that no one ever said, “You know what could eradicate coronavirus, convince national leaders that everyone deserves a livable wage regardless of the kind of work they’re doing, and provide a rush of endorphins? A short afternoon walk.”
So please, for the love of God, I’m gonna need you to develop just one or even two other coping mechanisms. Then maybe, just maybe, we can actually enjoy each other’s company again.
Read an interview with author Emily Delaney about writing this piece over on our Patreon page.