Henry David Thoreau once said, "Every walk is a sort of crusade." What did he mean? Who hasn't walked through the quiet of a wintry wood, or a field full of wildflowers with the sun shining bright and the birds singing from atop the trees only to find that, seemingly out of nowhere, the answer to a problem that plagued us just appeared? Artist Maria Kalman sees walking "as indispensable inspiration." Taking a walk through a city...any city..."You see everything you need to see for a lifetime." Kalman reminds us. "Every emotion. Every Condition. Every fashion. Every glory."
Scottish writer Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932) may have said it best. In a short paper written for his old boarding school magazine, he states that solitary walks in nature are like a visit to "the country of the mind." With an eye towards those of us who enjoy our solitary hops, or walks, in the peace and quiet of nature, Grahame writes, "Nature’s particular gift to the walker, through the semi-mechanical act of walking — a gift no other form of exercise seems to transmit in the same high degree — is to set the mind jogging, to make it garrulous, exalted, a little mad maybe — certainly creative and suprasensitive, until at last it really seems to be outside of you and as if it was talking to you whilst you are talking back to it. Then everything gradually seems to join in, sun and the wind, the white road and the dusty hedges, the spirit of the season, whichever that may be, the friendly old earth that is pushing life firth of every sort under your feet or spell-bound in a death-like winter trance, till you walk in the midst of a blessed company, immersed in a dream-talk far transcending any possible human conversation." And this is exactly the point I want to make.
Walking in nature or anywhere, really, is unlike any other exercise. It requires no thought or effort. Humans walk, and frogs hop, naturally, thus freeing the mind to become the best version of itself; creative and open to new possibilities. American artist Agnes Martin believed that "the best things in life happen to you when you're alone." Kenneth Grahame must have believed it, too. For years earlier he wrote, "As for adventures if they are the game you hunt, everyone’s experience will remind him that the best adventures of his life were pursued and achieved, or came suddenly to him unsought, when he was alone. For company too often means compromise, discretion, the choice of the sweetly reasonable. It is difficult to be mad in company; yet but a touch of lunacy in action will open magic doors to rare and unforgettable experiences."
Walking, as exercise, requires no special equipment other than a decent pair of shoes. And even those aren't required if you're walking in the fields or meadows...being careful, however, to avoid the stinging and biting insects. It is a solitary pleasure that not only brings health to the body but creativity to the mind. It's never too late to begin a new exercise regime. Walking is one of the best, and it is one that you may well find yourself adhering to.
I go for a morning hop nearly every day before beginning this blog. I find that it clears my mind and on those days when I struggle to find something to write about, I usually arrive back at my computer armed with more than a few new topics. Little things I observe in these early morning and solitary "walks" get my creative juices flowing. I highly recommend you give them a try!
I hope you'll come back tomorrow. Until then, I wish you peace.