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Hi everyone! I’m thefutureFIT (FIT is short for Financially Independent Teacher.) I’ve recently learned of the ideas of FIRE, and I’m changing my life around. I teach English in a middle school. I want to capture some thoughts about what it means to live frugally as a teacher because I think we have some interesting experiences. You can catch more of my journey and these thoughts at theFIteacher.com. Thanks!
Who Honked at Me?
Or, Why You Should Walk to Work
Somebody honked at me on the way to work the other day. I was on the side of the road, a 4 lane road, on a sidewalk, walking to school. I was feeling pretty great about life. Walking really does improve your mood, even near traffic. In fact, I was feeling ecstatic. I was thinking about how I’m saving money lately, how I’m getting in better shape, how I’m having an overall fun time. Then it happened. Some jerk honked at me.
I knew this would happen…
Since I’ve started walking to school, I’ve been wondering about what the drivers are seeing. Are they seeing me? Are they going by too fast to even notice? Would they stoop so low as to spend a second of their precious time gazing at a passerby?
I began to think, for the first few days, that everyone that drove by noticed me. I began to stress that everyone was looking and judging.
This is not the case! Since I’ve been walking, now about a month and a half, I’ve seen many of my coworkers drive by in the onslaught of the commute. But hardly anyone has ever mentioned anything about it. I think for the most part everyone is pretty much in the zone when they are driving.
It isn’t all bad/Get in your own zone!
Walking frees up some time to think. Whereas all those drivers whizzing past get caught up in the traffic, in the lights, in the noise, and in the danger, you, the walker, can think freely. You can smell the fresh air, the still-crisp winter mornings. You can see that the trees are beginning to bloom. These blooms are small, and only a few trees have them, but they are already there! That is insane; it is only February!
Basically, when you drive, you have to focus on the road (hopefully you aren’t zoning out or meditating.)
When you walk, though, you can think and open your mind to the world around you. You can meditate on the things that are important to you. You can figure out how to work through the day. You can destress after the day is done. Walking is the best.
Walking costs NOTHING.
When you walk to school or work there is nothing you need to pay for. NOTHING.
When you drive, you have to buy gas. You have to buy insurance. You have to buy registration and smog checks and oil changes and wiper blades and new tires. Cars are crazy. Sure, you’ll argue that if you already need a car for other long-distance events, you’re already paying for that stuff. But this isn’t the case. Literally every time you drive your car you are breaking down the tires, using up the oil, wearing down the wiper blades. And on top of that, every time you drive you are risking your life and your car!
I had a small accident on the way to work this morning. I slipped on the sidewalk and caught myself. I got a little bit of snow on me and was embarrassed for a few minutes. THAT’S IT.
If I had been in a small accident in my car (just as easily done if not easier) then I’d be figuring out insurance claims, taking my car to the repair man, hoping to cover all that with my hard earned money. Cars are crazy!
Relativity is your friend.
Walking will make biking seem luxurious, which it is. When you ride your bike, you’ll feel like you are flying. Walking will reawaken your love of the bicycle. After days of walking and contemplating, you’ll finally ride your bike to work one day and it will be like you’ve hopped on a speeder bike on the forest moon of Endor. Life is magic on a speeding bike. And walking will help you realize that.
People see you.
This may seem strange at first. Even uncomfortable. But, being a teacher, I’ve always felt that I should be a crucial member of my community.
While I’ve been a teacher, however, I have only ever seen a couple of students outside of school at a grocery store once or twice.
Since I’ve been walking I’ve seen or been seen by (maybe more important) many more students outside of school. This has dramatically helped my “presence” within the community. I think my students begin to see me as a person who is actually participating in a version of their own lives, which makes my instruction all the more relatable.
Having my students see me walking also brings up a lot of questions.
My kids mainly ask me, “Why do you walk?” or “Do you have a car still?” or, even better, “Are you crazy?” This seems annoying at first, but if you take your students questions (or questions from others, like coworkers) seriously, then it opens up all new forums for discussing what it means to live in this modern world. You can bring up topics like urban design and Happy Cities. You can bring up pollution and waste, frugality and savings. You can do all of this through engaging honestly in people’s questions about your activities. At first, you’ll want to joke off the questions and not engage. However, once you do engage, you’ll come up with some powerful answers for them AND you.
You can finally start living with your own reasons. Living as the pirate!
So. Who did honk at me?
Oh, and guess what! It turns out that the person who honked at me was a coworker. She saw me later that day and exclaimed how awesome she thought it was that I’ve been walking. She said she was really interested in maybe walking herself a couple days a week.
On top of that, I’ve convinced the PE teacher to start back up her goal of walking to work 2 days a week as well.
Overall, walking to work helps start me on the path of that famous Gandhi quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I think too many of us know that quote, but have never really thought about what change we would actually like in the world, let alone engaged in self-reflective practices enough to actually become that change. Walking can do that for you.
Some other fun facts about walking
-Since I’ve been walking, I’ve felt more connected with my environment than ever before. Now my school and classroom isn’t some place a car-drive away. Now it is just that room down the block. It is connected to my home now. It is part of my life, and my life is part of my class.
-You can listen to podcasts or free audio books from the library while you walk. Or you can practice Spanish with these programs. You can literally get another hour a day of quality books or information just from walking to work.