It was a cold winter day on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. There were slick patches of ice everywhere, reminding me of my Charlie Brown New Year. I was walking with a friend of mine to the synagogue for the morning prayer and related the story about how I fell the one day and how fearful I was of falling down as a result. My friend is fantastic at offering good advice when it is needed.
I should mention that my friend is an older gentleman and has lived to be able to tell many good stories. Some of his best stories are from the years that he spent in the army during the Korean war. Though he is not nearly as fit as when he was younger, he stays active and gets about walking — even if it is a little on the slower side.
We were waiting at an intersection when I had told him this story. He looked over at me and smiled. “Darling,” he said — for he tended to use such words with his friends — “I don’t ever have that kind of problem. Do you want to know how I walk down the street?”
I indicated that I did.
He said, “I look right in front of my feet and I put one foot in front of the other and I just walk.” He started walking as soon as the sign changed. I noticed that he was looking down in front of him and very deliberately putting one foot in front of the other in what seemed like a very careful manner.
I gave it a try — one foot in front of the other, always watching where I went. As we slowly walked towards the synagogue, it occurred to me that my friend might be trying to teach me something a little more important than how to walk without slipping on the ice.
Being fully aware of what you are doing, whether it is related to walking down the sidewalk or not, will cause you to do things better and more meaningfully. I am not saying that everything should be done in a unitasked manner but rather to just do everything as carefully as possible without going to the extreme of spending more time focusing on how one is doing something than actually doing it.
One foot in front of another. I haven’t slipped on the ice since then.