What I Learned From My Brother-in-Law’s T-Shirt

I have a brother-in-law Barry Wilen (married to Laurie’s sister Diane) who is one of those super-smart, walking encyclopedia kind of guys. Normally, his wisdom deals with academic topics and world events. But on a recent visit to their home in Hollywood, Florida, Barry waxed eloquent on a softer topic—the benefits of walking. To be more specific, it was actually Barry’s T-shirt that did the talking.

Laurie and I joined Barry and Diane on their morning ritual, a three-mile walk in Topeekeegee Yugnee Park. As the photo of the front of Barry’s T-shirt attests, they’ve passed the 10,000-mile mark. But even more impressive is the back of Barry’s T-shirt that touts some of the many benefits of walking.

Barry’s wisdom on walking brought to mind my post of August 22, 2023, entitled “Take a Walk– Alone, No Phone.” That post promoted the benefit of walks in nature, particularly silent walking and moments of stillness. Although the Wilen hikes aren’t silent, the experience is still inspirational and restorative.

Reflecting on that post, I recalled the powerful reaction that it generated. As we contemplate the immense physical and spiritual benefits of taking walks, I’ll share some of the profound comments readers of that post sent me.

  • “YES, Marvin! YES! This is gold. Wonderful post and stillness, to me, is the new busy. Somewhere along the way we culturally accepted busy (often rushed) as the norm. That if you weren’t ‘crazy busy’ you weren’t DOING enough. We are after all a productivity culture. Creativity or vision or ideas come in the stillness. Stillness makes way for gratitude, which is the ultimate state in which to receive. Connection to G-d is found in the stillness. Meditation changed my life 2 years ago. I just love this post.”
  • I do my best thinking when I am alone walking. I do my walk around the TCU campus and intentionally do not listen to a podcast or call anyone on the phone. It is so nourishing.”
  • “Today’s article resonated with me. I am actually planning on walking the El Camino trail across Portugal and Spain and plan to only use my cell in an emergency. Like you discovered on your walk around Lady Bird Lake, I am excited by the prospect to be completely detached from technology and have a couple of hundred miles or so to calm that ‘hurricane’ that constantly occupies my mind.”
  • “Quoting from an article “Walking” in The Atlantic, ‘I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks—who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering: …under pretense of going ‘a la Sainte Terre, to the Holy Land…. For every walk is a sort of crusade [to the] …Holy Land.”
  • “I have tried (sometimes more successfully than other times) to add thinking time to my day.” The reader attached an article about President Eisenhower, perfectly on point, from The New York Times (Jan. 19, 1954), “President Has Only Hour a Day to Think and Had to Beg for That.” “’The President’s main complaint is that we don’t give him enough time to think,’ Mr. Shanley said. ‘Finally, we had to set aside a half hour in the morning and the same time in the afternoon, in order to give the President the time he requires.’”
  • “Regarding ‘Take a Walk,’ I’m a huge proponent and have been all my life. My grandfather was a locally known ‘naturalist’ in Southwestern Wisconsin and has a trail named after him. He and my father taught me that part of the time should be spent silently, listening to sounds and seeing sights.”

This last piece of wisdom came with a link to a brilliant article on Today.com by Daryl Austin (Aug. 25, 2023) called “What Is Silent Walking?” advocating silent walking “to disconnect from all the noise and chaos that is part of our busy world.” The article offers tips on how to do it, warning it’s easier said than done. Benefits include reduced anxiety levels, improved sleep, lower blood pressure and heart rate, improved blood glucose levels, and a boost to the immune system.

I hope you’re as inspired as I am to take time for some meditative walks. Who knows what meaningful revelations may emerge!

(1) Marvin Blum with brother-in-law Barry Wilen, a walking enthusiast who has logged more than 10,000 miles on the trails of Topeekeegee Yugnee Park in Hollywood, Florida. (2) The back of Barry Wilen’s T-shirt waxes eloquent on the benefits of walking. Here’s to your physical and mental wellbeing!