There’s a scene in the classic 1969 movie, “Midnight Cowboy.”
Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight (way before he got all scary on “Ray Donovan”) are crossing a busy New York City street when a taxi runs a red light and almost hits them. According to Hoffman, the classic line that came next was totally improvised since the taxi wasn’t in the script: “Hey, we’re WALKING here!”
It’s something we say to our two dogs all the time. Because all they want to do is stop and sniff, and we’re out there because we feel obligated to give them, if not ourselves, exercise. So, in his best Noo Yo-ak accent, my husband will inform the dogs, “We’re WALKING here,” accompanied by a tug on the leash. We may have the only dogs trained by the Dustin Hoffman School of Obedience.
But now I’m beginning to wonder whether the dogs have the right idea.
Not that I want to stop and press my nose against the mashup of tourist detritus, dead squirrel, previous dogs and discarded food. But it may be that we should enjoy the process of the walk a little more than the destination.
I’m not just talking “stop and smell the roses” stuff here. I’m talking about something I read recently in which Alexandra Horowitz is quoted from her book, “On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes.” She says that if you can get different people to narrate what it is they see along a walk, you will learn different things, even if it is the same walk each time. Because, she says, people bring not only their unique perspectives, but their unique backgrounds on each walk, so they experience the walk differently.
The corollary to that, I think, is that if I narrate the walk to myself, I might just learn a little something about myself as well.
So if you see me out and about, I just might be “WALKING and TALKING here.”