When taking the walk from my apartment on 20 South 6th Street to go to the IUP campus library, I walk a half a block north, turn left on Philadelphia Street and walk two blocks to 8th Street. I turn left and walk diagonally across 8th Street and the S&T drive up teller area. Then I continue across the S&T parking lot to Church Street. I then walk past 3 houses on Church Street, turn left on to Oakland Avenue and walk to the IUP Oak Grove. At the point, I turn left and just walk on the sidewalks in the direction of the library on the far side of the Oak Grove.
It all seems so simple when I explain the actual directions taken for that particular walk, but now the fun begins when I explain what visual experiences my mind goes through, what different voices in my head are saying, the mental visual games I play while walking and the extra physical activities I undertake during that same walk. Just so you know, they are not the same experiences every time I take this particular walk, but then again, sometimes they are.
Having worked in Visual Merchandising and Store Design for over 25 years, I do look at the window presentations of the different shops on Philadelphia Street just to see if there is anything that really stands out to me. I also look at the lighting effects. I look to see if the glass windows are clean and see if the clothing items displayed are both pressed and wrinkle free.
I may also just see my reflection in the angled glass windows as I pass by a shop. If I see any employees that I know, I just give a wave of the hand. I look to see who is eating and/or drinking at the different restaurants and if other individuals are walking toward me, I try to stay to the right and give a positive nod of recognition or say hello. There are also the sites of the buildings as seen from across the street, and the sounds of everyday traffic. Occasionally, I may see an unusual sidewalk crack and a childhood thought of “Stepping on a crack, will break your mother’s back” pop into my head. Why?
The business offices that can be seen while walking, makes me think about what type of desk, chairs and art I would have if it were my work area. I basically like things clean and simple. I like black, white, grey and natural. The actual color added to my office would be the individuals that enter with whatever colors they are wearing at that moment. I am a hands-on constructive arts and crafts individual, so my office would have all types of tools.
One must be careful walking since there are many sidewalk sign at the different business entrances. Another concern is that one must dodge the different types of garbage that some individuals throw down anywhere. Some people just do not seem to notice and/or care that there are city garbage cans just a few feet away.
It reminds me of my years at IUP in the early 70’s when the Mayor of Pittsburgh, Peter F. Flaherty, had a unique program directed to really having pride about how the City of Pittsburgh looked regarding garbage in general. Although his first name was Peter, the pickup garbage campaign was called: “For Pete’s Sake!”
Now, moving on to 8th Street and the parking spaces behind S&T Bank. Early in the morning and definitely on Sundays, there are no cars in the parking lot. So, when I start my diagonal walk toward Church Street, I enjoy setting my visual sights on walking a straight line. I use different landmarks ahead of me to line-up my walk. It is just for fun, but the only times I can actually see my final results are when there is a slight dusting of snow. At that time, I can look back and see my footprints results in the snow. All other times, I just do the best I can, without proof, but it is still fun for me.
Upon crossing over to the south side of Church Street, there are just three houses that I pass. Then, I turn left on to Oakland Avenue. I use my critical eyes regarding the houses that need small exterior repairs and mentally I wish I could pull the weeds out from the yards along the way. The next portion of my walk becomes a little more physical because I take it upon myself to bend over and literally pick-up the garbage all the way to the Oak Grove. It is a good exercise for my waist.
I have garbage bags in my backpack for this purpose and it does not take long to fill a bag with papers, plastic bottles, cans, paper cups, etc. that were either thrown there or have blown in from across the street. When I get to the Oak Grove, there are campus garbage cans along the way but even with them, I occasionally find and pick-up some campus garbage.
My positive take upon entering the library to check my E-mail, Watch NBC News from the night before and watch some special programs is that my return walk home will just be a walk with no work, and my mind can just relax!