Nature Taunts Me, Yet We Spend 30 Minutes Together Every Day


In just a few minutes, I will leave the cozy comfort of my home behind and head out into the misty, muggy morning. Why? I don’t know. It’s nice in here. The air is cool. The floor is even. There are no gnats.

Yet I will don my beat-up sneakers, take a deep breath and head out into the world to commune for a full half hour with (shudder) nature. Oh, it’s not nature’s fault. Nature is there, despite man’s best efforts to air-condition it, cover it in concrete and relegate it into plats. We’ve transplanted its trees and zapped its bugs, yet it perseveres.

I just don’t see why I have to be out in it.

Well, actually I do. Every six months, my doctor reminds me to walk for 30 minutes every day, and I want to do everything she says, so, when I ultimately keel over, I’ll have someone to blame. She is aware of this and, like many people, dismisses my concerns.

“You do realize the time it takes to do this?” I ask her, huffily.

“Yes. Half an hour,” she retorts, blithely wrapping a blood pressure cuff around my arm.

“I mean, annually!” I protest. “It takes 182 hours a year. That’s just over a week of my life!”

“You calculated this?” She pumps the blood pressure cuff until my anxiety rises sufficiently, then stops. The blood pressure cuff wheezes.

I echo its sentiments and nod. “If I live another 30 years…”

“You wish.”

I roll my eyes. “If I live another 30 years, I’d better get an extra 30 weeks of life tacked onto the end.”

“I’ll make a note of it.” She scribbles something onto my chart, but I suspect it’s not, “Give patient an extra 30 weeks of life.”

“Okay, you’re done,” she says crisply, handing me my paperwork. “See you in six months. Keep up the good work.”

“There’s no need to be sarcastic!” I yell down the hallway.

But I head home remotely glad that she said I was doing a good job. I mean, if both she and I work at this, I could conceivably live as long as I was meant to.

When I open my door, I am met with a consoling rush of cool air and the beckoning presence of my refrigerator, stocked with ice cream bars (for the grandchildren) and refreshing juice (for me.).

I flop onto the couch, unwrap an ice cream bar and stare out into nature through a protective window. Nature taunts me.

I eat my ice cream bar as slowly as humanly possible, guilt rising within me. I put on my sneakers and slam the door behind me. I stride around the block twice as quickly as possible, trying to make a half an hour go faster. The birds are singing. The sun is shining. Blah, blah, blah.

Finally, I’m back. I’m a wretched, sweaty mess. I flop back onto the couch, turn on the TV. “Dr. Phil” is talking about the importance of taking care of oneself. Will this nagging never stop?

Slowly, I come to my senses. I get up, go to my calendar and make a little checkmark. I walked for a full half hour, and this is what I get for it — a little checkmark.

But it makes me happy. Seeing 30 little checkmarks every month sends joy coursing through my veins. Perhaps that will help add 30 weeks to my life.