“Walking is magic. Can’t recommend it highly enough. I read that Plato and Aristotle did much of their brilliant thinking together while ambulating. The movement, the meditation, the health of the blood pumping, and the rhythm of footsteps… this is a primal way to connect with one’s deeper self.” Paula Cole
I’m reading a book about walking. The sentence that keeps coming to mind here, is ‘It seems a pedestrian subject.’ It’s both a groan-inducing pun and a true statement since walking is something most of us do without thinking about it. This particular book by Rebecca Solnit* is actually a history of walking and while I’ve just started it, it’s already an intriguing look at why movement, particularly walking, matters to human beings, and what has changed and what has stayed the same over time.
I am getting to travel in my new job and while I do see new sights from planes and cars, I particularly like it when I have a chance to explore on foot. I have always loved wandering a campus to get a feel for it and one of the many unexpected results of my brief foray into running was a new comfort with exploring an unknown city. It doesn’t hurt that I carry an iPhone meaning I always have a map with me. So when I have a chance on my travels, I walk. As I walk, I take in the sights and sounds, enjoy the differences in architecture, trees and weather. Walking is an intimate way to get to know a city or a campus.
Walking loosens muscles, but it also frees the mind. Watching the world around you change as you move creates new connections, opens new ways of seeing and thinking . Julia Cameron includes walking as one of her three tools for a creative life. As she puts it, “‘[W]alk on it’ is good advice, whether the problem is a persnikety plot line or a persistent personality clash. Native Americans pursue vision quests, Aborigines do walkabout. Both of these cultures know that walking clears the head.”* There’s also walking meditation, walking prayer and of course, the one we are starting to lose in some places – walking to get someplace.
I struggle to get outside and walk at this time of year because it’s so blazing hot, but I know it matters and when I’m stuck on something, it helps to get up and walk around even if it’s just around the house. And if I want to sort out something big or emotional, Barbara Ueland’s advice is always good, “I will tell you what I have learned myself. For me, a long five or six mile walk helps. And one must go alone and every day.”
Do you have something you are working on? Let’s go walking. Something on your mind? Let’s put on our walking shoes. Are you ready for a bit of magic? Well, let’s walk!
*Books cited are listed on the Bits and Pieces page