A couple drunk guys are tearing down Alford Road in a white pickup truck at two in the morning. They’re just out cruising, having a good time, listening to the stereo. It’s snowing a little, bitter ice cold outside the warm cabin, weather that no one in their right minds would go out in given the choice.

Yet just before they get to the juncture of Alford and Main, they spot a dark-clad figure trudging along the side of the road. Their slack, vague faces stare out the windows at the crazy man walking up the street. He’s dressed warmly, carrying a portable CD player, and is moving steadily. They zoom on past, wondering why the guy was out there.

Let me let you in on a little secret. That guy, the crazy nut out there with his CD-player and forest-green jacket, is me. I have an addiction to, a passion for walking. I just love to get out there and walk along listening to my music, thinking to myself and letting my mind play. Unfortunately, the weather isn’t always completely condusive to that pursuit... and yet somehow I always find myself out there, trudging faithfully along, dog after its mental master.

I’m addicted. The feeling of my muscles and bones propelling me steadily across the ground, the pressure of fresh air in my lungs, the music going into my ears, it all combines to provoke a beta-endorphin rush that I just can’t leave behind.

It’s like the people you see outside the classroom buildings, smoking up and waiting for the last possible instant to go inside. They’ve got to get their fix before they go in or else they can’t deal. And so you see me carrying around my CD player, walking around the classroom buildings, getting my fix.

I have an addictive personality. I’m addicted to these walks, to the movement, to the scenes, to the air (warm or cold; it doesn’t matter), to the way the music blends into it all and jump-starts my brain. And my habit it a expensive one; four batteries last me for only eight hours of walking, sometimes ten if I’m lucky. At five bucks a shot, I’m pouring hundreds of dollars into batteries every year.

I guess it could be worse; I mean, it’s not like I get really pale and haggard and hung over, nor is anyone going to bust me. And it’s actually supposed to be good for you. I wonder about this, though - I bet that one of these days the FDA will come out with something that claims that endorphins cause cancer, and we should go to the greatest lengths to avoid being happy. There’ll be Laughter Anonymous groups and No Smiling signs and Surgeon General’s Warning: Happiness Can Retard Your Baby’s Growth and Just Say No To Joy seminars for children and little pincushions welded to every chair so that we have to experience pain every time we want to sit down after our long walk in the smog and the noise and the freezing snow.

I can see it happening. I kind of feel for those poor smokers, maligned by modern American culture after years of worship. I worry that I Could Be Next. And then some dumb jerk blows smoke in my face, and I forget all those feelings.

Maybe if I go for a walk, I’ll feel better.

by Bjorn

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