I’ve long been a walker. In High School my boyfriend and I would walk from midtown Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge, catching the subway to Brighton Beach at DeKalb Avenue. I loved the sense of accomplishment and self-reliance derived from getting to a destination entirely on my own power.

I continued walking alone and with friends throughout my adulthood, hiking with the Sierra Club, Appalachian Mountain Club and Shorewalkers. Eventually, retirement loomed. As a workaholic I wasn’t sure how I would cope with days unstructured by work. But I didn’t want to work forever. I took the plunge and retired.

The first few months were a flurry of activity; work done in my apartment, travel to visit family, theater, museums, lunch with friends. I discovered a topic to write a book about. I researched and interviewed. Then the pandemic shut the world down. Yet Shorewalkers continued to run, and was among the only in-person activities occurring. Wow, a walking club centered in NYC which functioned, albeit with masks, group size limits and the usual social distancing requirements. But people could meet, enjoy the scenery, weather and each others’ company in the outdoors. For me, it meant that life didn’t change all that much. Shorewalkers provided relationships with like-minded people who enjoyed being outside. It was a lifesaver, contributing mightily to the sweetness of life.

With vaccines and mutations COVID has morphed into something more manageable and the world has largely reopened. People meet in person, at theaters, restaurants, hotels and airports. Nonetheless, modern life has changed forever. We realize we don’t have to go to an office daily to work. We can meet virtually for discussions over politics, books, movies and everything else.

But walking remains. There is no substitute for putting one foot in front of the other, alongside companions to reach a destination and see beautiful, interesting sights along the way. There’s no substitute for meeting new people in the flesh, forging new friendships and finding new challenges and meaning through the simple act of walking.

Life is good in part due to Shorewalkers. It’s provided me with community to share the outdoors, meals, nature and the sweetness of life. I hope it can do the same for you.

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