There’s not much that I like more than a really good walk. I cancelled my gym membership not just to save money, but because, these days, walking outdoors is my preferred form of exercise. It’s simple, it’s easy and I can load the baby into her stroller and take her along with me without much fuss. I walk every day, almost without fail, sometimes just around the block, sometimes a few miles.
It’s rare that I don’t have a destination in mind – usually landing in spot where treats can be had – but yesterday G and I headed out to the stationary store downtown and ended up halfway across town at Luther Burbank Gardens, where we got to see poppies upon poppies in full bloom followed by a chat with the gift shop volunteer about Santa Rosa plums and how Burbank married a woman 40 years his junior (!) A great afternoon came out of the impulse to walk left instead of right, which would have taken us directly home.
I got to thinking about walking after my friend Autumn (one of the best writers and thinkers I know) posted a link to this piece on BBC News, The slow death of purposeless walking. William Wordsworth, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf – all were daily walkers who walked aimlessly, thinking and observing along the way, according to the piece. Woolf’s Street Haunting: A London Adventure captures the meandering, creative sparks inhabited during a really good walk.
It’s often assumed that there’s a a luxury or a privilege in having the time to walk. I just don’t have the time to walk there. I have to work and earn money and make a living and survive! Sure, we’re all busy. But our minds need that time of movement without stress, of stimuli without the pressure to consume, of passing by the same spots in the neighborhood over and over to see how things have changed. What does the creek look like today? How much has the neighbor’s garden grown since last week? What motley crew is hanging at the local park at two in the afternoon?
I’ll be writing more about walking in the coming months. Obviously, it’s one of my obsessions. For now, I’ll leave you with some tips from the BBC piece:
Boil down the books on walking and you’re left with some key tips:
Walk further and with no fixed route
Stop texting and mapping
Don’t soundtrack your walks
Find walkable places
And a link to one of my favorite books on walking, Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit.