How often do you walk? Do you walk just to reach from point A to B or do you walk as a practice of mindulness.
The other part of seeing what is on the block is appreciating how limited our own view is. We are limited by our sensory abilities, by our species membership, by our narrow attention — at least the last of which can be overcome.
I am one of those people who use walking as a way to go somewhere and yet nowhere. When I was living in Makati, I would normally walk around the CBD area from Ayala Triangle to Legaspi Park. It was a form of escape from the daily grind. My pace slower than the usual, taking in all the details of my surroundings from the gentle breeze blowing through my hair to the little leaves falling off the trees. It is through regular walks that I am reconnected with myself and with the moment. Walking can never be without looking.
I guess most take for granted the benefits one can get out of the simple act of walking. Here is an excerpt from Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust that can help you think about the art of walking and how it is an act of reconnecting and being in the present.
Most of the time walking is merely practical, the unconsidered locomotive means between two sites. To make walking into an investigation, a ritual, a meditation, is a special subset of walking, physiologically like and philosophically unlike the way the mail carrier brings the mail and the office worker reaches the train. Which is to say that the subject of walking is, in some sense, about how we invest universal acts with particular meanings. Like eating or breathing, it can be invested with wildly different cultural meanings, from the erotic to the spiritual, from the revolutionary to the artistic. Here this history begins to become part of the history of the imagination and the culture, of what kind of pleasure, freedom, and meaning are pursued at different times by different kinds of walks and walkers.
Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord. Walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them. It leaves us free to think without being wholly lost in our thoughts.
The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts. This creates an odd consonance between internal and external passage, one that suggests that the mind is also a landscape of sorts and that walking is one way to traverse it. A new thought often seems like a feature of the landscape that was there all along, as though thinking were traveling rather than making. And so one aspect of the history of walking is the history of thinking made concrete — for the motions of the mind cannot be traced, but those of the feet can.
Perhaps walking should be called movement, not travel, for one can walk in circles or travel around the world immobilized in a seat, and a certain kind of wanderlust can only be assuaged by the acts of the body itself in motion, not the motion of the car, boat, or plane. It is the movement as well as the sights going by that seems to make things happen in the mind, and this is what makes walking ambiguous and endlessly fertile: it is both means and end, travel and destination.
Freebie for bookworms! You can get a free digital copy of Henry David Thoreau’s Walking here.