Take a Walk – Alone, No Phone

On a recent Austin weekend to babysit our grandkids Lucy and Grey, I took a walk along Lady Bird Lake while they were napping. Remarkably, a simple thing like an afternoon walk, alone with no phone, opened my mind to powerful revelations. I highly recommend it.

Our lives are busy and hectic. We rarely take a moment to be in the moment, to just “be” and not “do.” My afternoon stroll calmed my ever-racing mind.

During the pandemic, I heard a virtual presentation “Mind in Motion” by psychologist, Leigh Weinraub that resonated with me. She said, “The mind is a hurricane, always racing forward and backward.” It requires intention to stop the racing and be in the moment. Being present in the “now” is comforting. We are free from worrying about the future “might be’s” and free from regret over past “might have been’s.” On my walk, I found that peace of being totally in the present. My mind slowed down.

Author Ryan Holiday echoes this theme in his book, Stillness Is The Key. Coincidentally, he recommends taking a walk, without a phone and without music, to find the stillness. Per Holiday, epiphanies only come when you are quiet. The most meaningful thoughts come to us when we’re in silence. Songwriters Hank Williams and Vince Gill both expressed how their creative juices ignited in stillness; they could just sit down and let the pen flow.

Holiday also advocates how a deep appreciation for nature’s beauty nourishes us: “Drink it in, and achieve stillness for the soul.” Walking along Lady Bird Lake, I found that nourishment. I noticed the purple wildflowers and thought of Alice Walker’s line, in The Color Purple: “I think it pisses G-d off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” I noticed.

What else did I notice? I noticed the calm that came over me, accompanied by abundant gratitude. Looking at the Austin skyline, I reflected on all the good in my life associated with that city. Austin is where:

  • I met my wife Laurie, the love of my life.
  • I forged a lifelong best friendship with Talmage Boston.
  • I connected with wonderful friends who still are a part of my daily life.
  • I received a superior education in law and accounting.
  • With that education, I embarked on a dream career as an estate planning attorney.
  • My son Adam and his family live a beautiful life in Austin.
  • Laurie and I have the privilege of enjoying two precious grandchildren here – Lucy (4) and Grey (2).
  • The Blum Firm opened an office in Austin that is vibrant and thriving, thanks to a stellar team running it and the terrific support of the Austin community.

I am filled with gratitude for the blessings that came to my mind in the stillness of my walk. One final expression of gratitude came to my mind: my thanks to Lady Bird Johnson for her commitment to beautifying America, in whose memory Town Lake was renamed Lady Bird Lake. Her spirit lives in every wildflower that blooms along that trail. Lady Bird’s legacy is forever a gift to us. May we all search for a way to leave behind a legacy that will be a gift to future generations.

Marvin E. Blum

Left: Marvin and Laurie Blum are grateful for all that Austin offers, especially the privilege of babysitting grandkids, Lucy, Grey (and Basil!). Right: A walk along Lady Bird Lake provides Marvin with the stillness to soak up all the blessings that Austin represents to him.