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Walking a thousand miles a year hasn’t given me a tidy list for how to live a good and effective life that I could stick up on the refrigerator.But it’s kept the promise contained in the Latin phrase , or “it is solved by walking.” Originally used to describe a premise that is explored through practical experiment, the phrase has been used by thinkers, writers and travelers throughout millennia of written history, people who believed — because they walked and found it to be true — that walking was an answer to the stuck thought, the sorrowing heart, the moral dilemma.For every walk is a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us, to go forth and reconquer this Holy Land from the hands of the Infidels.
Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.
But I prefer the first, which, indeed, is the most probable derivation.
It is the realization that freedom of the mind is intertwined with freedom of movement.
evolved from various hominin species that spent something like 6 million years learning to walk upright on two feet and developing habits of motion, work and social relationships alongside that evolution.
Walking, alone or with others, allows us to question the rigidity of our own beliefs, whether it’s a political ideology or the potential of snowballs to turn into unicorns.
I’ve walked off sadness, anxiety, anger and fear, wandering until whatever dark emotion gripped me receded enough that I could place it in perspective. When that familiar numbness creeps through my fingers and heart, I force myself to step outside no matter the weather, to walk a little, even just to the mailbox.Ever since my family made the move from an exurban house where we were completely dependent on our two cars into a walkable town, the effects of walking have crept into all corners of our life, from my own health to our two kids’ sense of independence.We’ve been walking or biking to school most days for nearly three years now, ever since my daughter started kindergarten.In the middle of our walk home from school, my daughter paused to pick up a handful of snow and shape it into a ball.“This is a unicorn egg,” she told me, planting it in the thigh-high snowbank next to the sidewalk.I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil—to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society.I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make an emphatic one, for there are enough champions of civilization: the minister and the school committee and every one of you will take care of that.At first, she preferred biking to the half-hour walk, but the benefits of wandering — and the imaginings it can inspire — gradually took over the desire for speed.I’ve also spent the last two years writing and researching a book about walking.Our expeditions are but tours, and come round again at evening to the old hearthside from which we set out. We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return, prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only as relics to our desolate kingdoms.If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again—if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man—then you are ready for a walk.