I’m fortunate to live in a walkable suburban community. It actually has sidewalks and a walking/biking trail, a rare luxury these days. My car, I’m proud to say, spends most of its time in the garage. Everything I need access to—dentist, doctor, hairdresser, restaurants, and joy of joys, the public library—is within walking distance. Even the supermarket is, though the car is handy for bringing groceries home (some day I may relive my student years and wheel them home in a cart). Short of living in a city, this is as close to self-sufficiency as it gets. And reducing my carbon footprint is a welcome bonus.
Diets and physical fitness plans, like many activities in modern life, go through phases and fads. Paleo, pilates, you name it. While I am a dedicated lap swimmer, I have yet to find any exercise as invigorating, natural, and simple as walking. All you need is a good pair of shoes and a desire to get off your butt and get moving. Amazing what time in the open air beneath the vast sky can do for the mind and soul. Troubles—and pounds—melt away. And being a firm believer in the power of pasta to feed the spirit, I’ll gladly walk the extra mile, or three, to earn it.
I’m in grand company when I walk—with my fellow walkers, birds, squirrels, dogs, the unseen creatures in the grass and beneath rocks and leaves. Best of all my mind is free to wander. And though my peregrinations haven’t necessarily resulted in anything extraordinary, it’s gratifying to know it has in others.
To name a few:
John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club and National Audubon Society, was legendary for his long treks, having once walked from Kentucky to Florida. Ditto Abraham Lincoln. Wallace Stevens composed his remarkable poems in his head to the rhythm of his body walking to his job at an insurance company. William Wordsmith and Charles Dickens, too, were famous for their marathon hikes through the English countryside.
Beauty, order and disorder, rhythm are part of the experience of walking, waiting to be transformed into a work of art or a conservation movement or anything that elevates the human experience. So get up, get moving, listen and see. Breathe.