I love to walk. Quickened blood bathes my brain, carrying fresh oxygen to fuel my imagination. The unexpected sights and encounters of a walk can’t be planned; wooded path or city block, something will be revealed.
Walking is a primary component of my life. I have three dogs that clamor for their exercise. I also work a mile from the commuter train, and I walk that route ten times a week. There is joy to walking. It’s so simple, yet no two steps are identical, even when you walk the same route for weeks, months, years. Every walk is an encounter with the edge of the unknown, a direct entry into the future.
I have a pair of Docs, with Air Soles. I got them my Junior year of college (1998). My Docs have carried me across the beautiful bridges in Brugge, over the haunted, brick-laid walkways of Mary Washington College, and through the busy streets of the living, beating heart of Austin. I didn’t wear those Docs in Australia, Boston, the wilds of Maine, or Hawaii, yet in spirit, somewhere in my metaphysical reality, they were there. The Docs are the archetype, the Platonic ideal. All of my shoes are participants in the ideal of the Docs, carrying me forward. They were with me as a young girl in Budapest, tasting and breathing my ancestry. They were with me the night I went to the Blue Ridge mountains to see the meteor shower. They were with me in Kauai, a place that resonates with the depth-less soul of life. In some future, I may walk in Italy or wander Kyoto. The ideal of the Docs will be there, too, always with me as I walk.
Walks transport not just the body, but also transcend time. I do not walk in some singular “now.” Every walk reminds me of some other walk, the same way strangers in an airport look familiar. I’ve been in LAX, DFW, O’Hare, and so many more I can’t remember, and in each of them I see the shades of former co-workers, friends a decade lost, the dead. The experience of strolling an airport concourse alternates between exhilaration and terror. There is a chance, however small, that you will see someone you know – unexpectedly, and possibly from beyond the veil. Airports are a concentrated nexus of paths, a place where all of us are take flight from walking, and “unstick” from that which literally grounds us in our humanity.
Even my daily walk from train station to office reminds me of other places. The columns on the Event Center evoke my brief time as a Physics grad student at Old Dominion University. The bridge crossing the Colorado reminds me of a river in Bangor, Maine and a larger bridge near Dahlgren, Virginia. The building I work in, from a distance, reminds me of another building on a hill, another job. There is an arrangement of trees that reminds me of Paris; the wrong type of tree, of course, but just as all my shoes participate in the Docs ideal, these trees participate in an overreaching, spiritual tree form. They are as unique as our stories and our souls, but vibrate with a shared harmony. Everything is perfect when it is itself, except possibly people. Our will and our greed and our envy make us less perfect, but we have the gift of walking. We can calm our acquisitive monkey-brains and get perspective when we walk. Walking reminds us we are a part of something vast and incalculable. When we walk we can simply be, simply breathe, simply move: ourselves, perfected.
This week I have been feeling caged, with wild weather for a week, I have been cooped up inside and I am getting antsy!
There is something truly healing about walking. Personally I prefer walking in rural areas but all walking is good for that monkey mind and good for this human soul. Of course there is also something to be said for having a canine companion or two on the walk with you. I swear Jazz (my canine companion) is the best walking companion-cum-writing companion. Now weather please cooperate and clear up so that I can go for my walks!
Hope you are well my friend! 🙂
Your posts never daily to bring a smile to my days.
I hope your weather improves, Kim. You and Jazz probably are really ready for a good, long walk. My dogs are named Milkweed, Poppet, and Gooseberries; they get antsy if we miss one day, and are about insane after two days.
I enjoy rural walks, too. They tend to be more peaceful because you don’t have to worry about cars or crossing streets. City streets offer their own kind of solace, but you have to be more willing to look for it, rather than be immediately transported to a contemplative state.
I hope you are well, too, and that the words are flowing!
A wonderful post! I love walking, too, for many of the same reasons you mentioned.
Thank you for the compliment. I think my post on writing was spurred by reading this article: http://chronicle.com/article/Bright-Stroll-Big-City/146817/ Thanks for signing up for the newsletter! 🙂
I love walking too, Aniko – it’s the best, most gentle, and most natural form of exercise I can think of! And it often does help to centre me, calm my mind, and provide new ideas and inspiration. Lovely post!
Thank you, Mari. My mom introduced me to the peace and calm of walking. I’m not sure I would have discovered it on my own, as walking is a devalued activity in the USofA. People here would rather drive around a parking lot for ten minutes than park at the back and walk to the store. It’s quite insane!
Thank you, as always, for the support!
Mo and I walk every single day of the week, Aniko. We walk fast, too. I cover 2 miles in 24 minutes. She does three miles in the same time (yeah, she does it w/o running. MOVING IT!). Keeps us fit and inspired to read your, and your friends, excellent posts. Looking forward to MIXED MEDIA (notice I noticed MIXED MEDIA is always ALL CAPS). GO!
That is a lot of very fast walking! Love you both!!