Oh, what a walk can do for the weary soul!
Taking a walk for a lot of people is a luxury that doesn’t fit into busy schedules. Amidst the clutter of media overload, PowerPoint malaise, traffic, bills, groceries, laundry, and appointments . . . a walk may well be the best gift you can give yourself.
Solvitur Ambulando! This Latin term means: It is solved by walking. The expression is often attributed to Saint Augustine of Hippo and to Diogenes of Sinope while seeking a solution about motion and change to Zeno’s Paradox.
The Greek physician Hippocrates said something similar:
Walking is man’s best medicine.
Many writers find a bridge between walking and writing:
But I love the feel
of a pen in my hand
like a good stout
—Linda Pastan, “This Enchanted Forest”
Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.
—Henry David Thoreau
I would walk along the quais when I had finished work or when I was trying to think something out. It was easier to think if I was walking and doing something or seeing people doing something that they understood.
—Earnest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
Perhaps the weight of strife and disappointment spurs a deep longing within a person.
Shakespeare knew the power of a good walk in the voice of Prospero:
…a turn or two I’ll walk,
To still my beating mind.
—Shakespeare (Tempest, act 4, sc. 1)
In the poem “Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight,” poet Vachel Lindsay portrays “the mourning figure” of the long gone Lincoln pacing the streets of Springfield on the eve of World War I:
It is portentous, and a thing of state
That here at midnight, in our little town
A mourning figure walks, and will not rest,
Near the old court-house pacing up and down.
—Vachel Lindsay, “Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight”
We find our path by walking.
You find your way through a place by getting lost in it.
—Anthony Doerr, Four Seasons in Rome
When I am among the trees,
Especially the willows and the honey locust,
Equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines,
They give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
. . .
—Mary Oliver, “When I Am Among the Trees”
In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.
Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.
I dressed and went for a walk – determined not to return until I took in what Nature had to offer.
And sometimes a walk delivers something utterly mystical.
Something unusual happened when I was walking through a meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park during the Solar Eclipse on August 21st. I was looking up at what would be approximately 94 percent coverage of the sun by the moon in my particular location. A spectacular occurrence! My solar eclipse glasses were planted on my eyes for safe viewing. The temperature dropped. A flock of tiny birds went flipping and somersaulting unexpectantly in the air beside me. And it wasn’t only the sky that gloried in wonder as it methodically dimmed. A short time before peak coverage, I glanced down to the ground under a tall pine tree and took my glasses off. Scattered on the forest floor beneath the tree dazzled a multitude of tiny cresent-shaped projections shimmering in sunlight. The sun through the pine needles displayed splashes of its waning image. Back went on the glasses as I looked to the sky again while the moon cloaked most of the sun in its black veil. Ahh, what a sight! I can only imagine the splendor of a solar eclipse in complete totality with its corona and streamers and prominences!
For me, walking is a grace bestowed. When my heart is restless, solitude streams in as I walk in the beauty of creation. There I am calmed. There I am restored. And always I am inspired.
For those family, friends, and acquaintances who have physical impairments, many wheelchair accessible sidewalks and trails are available in our cities and parks. Why not reach out and share the wonder?
Give yourself and another the gift of a walk. You might even start humming!
Thanks for stopping by! ♥