Take a Walk…

Spread the word!

This photo was taken one balmy morning while on a random walk through my West Los Angeles neighborhood.

Taking a walk for the sake of a walk was homework for a class called “Differential Consciousness” taught by Roger Weir. It was in the first quarter of the two-year journey through nature, ritual, myth, symbol, vision, art, history and science. Henry David Thoreau’s essay “Walking” inspired the exercise, a piece of work that honors the time-tested practice of “sauntering” and advises walking not for exercise, but simply to walk.

“But the walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise, as it is called, as the sick take medicine at stated hours—as the Swinging of dumb-bells or chairs; but is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day. If you would get exercise, go in search of the springs of life. Think of a man’s swinging dumbbells for his health, when those springs are bubbling up in far-off pastures unsought by him!

“Moreover, you must walk like a camel, which is said to be the only beast which ruminates when walking. When a traveler asked Wordsworth’s servant to show him her master’s study, she answered, “Here is his library, but his study is out of doors.”

 On a walk for the sake of a walk anything can happen. You might catch a glimpse of a beautiful bird or insect, one you wouldn’t have seen if you had different criteria for your adventure, say exercise or speed. You could meet an old friend or make a new one and spend a few moments of your walk invested in the life of another. Walking simply to walk brings with it the pleasure of allowing your personal rhythm to unfold, the time to observe your surroundings in a whole new way, and pleasure of taking at least a few moments of your day in peace.

Kurt Vonnegut has also mentioned the benefit of getting outdoors, for him it’s about getting away from the computer.

“I told my wife I was going out to buy an envelope and she says, ‘You’re not a poor man. Why don’t you go online and buy 100 envelopes and put them in the closet?’ I pretend not to hear her and go out to get an envelope because I am going to have one hell of a good time in the process. I meet a lot of people, see some great looking babes, and a fire engine goes by and I give it the thumbs up and ask a woman what kind of dog that is and I don’t know, the moral of the story is we’re here on earth to fart around, of course the computers will do us out of that. What the computer people don’t realize or don’t care is that we’re dancing animals.”

Take a walk.

Go buy an envelope.

Get out there and dance.