Friday, February 25, 2011

Making strides

I remember the walking more than what we saw or talked about. Winter of 95-96 in Oxford, the town was snowed in and Colin was snowed in with us at our apartment.

It was dark, maybe 10pm or later when we set out on a walk to explore the town and the snow. We talked and walked through a good bit of the night, undeterred, actually excited by the weather. I don't remember what time we got back.

One of those walks, those experiences, that sticks with you. I've had a few of them.

Sometimes I think I'm a runner because I'm an impatient walker. A group of us will cover our 10-mile Tuckahoe trail run or a run around town of the same distance in under 90 minutes--covering ground, heart pumping, endorphins cranking, body feeling good. But you aren't really seeing things the same as when you set out on a meander.

Walking itself is the intentional act closest to the unwilled rhythms of the body, to breathing and the beating of the heart. It strikes a delicate balance between working and idling, being and doing. It is a bodily labor that produces nothing but thoughts, experiences, arrivals. -Rebecca Solnit

Last week I sent some running quotes to a group of co-workers training for their first half-marathon. I stumbled across this gem from Thoreau, "Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow." I've thought and lived and written about this same thing (though less eloquently) for some time. My mind works better in motion.

I'm reading Rebecca Solnit's Wanderlust: A History of Walking and it's hard to sit still. It reframes my mind and body and place/relation in the world and makes me want to walk.

My favorite runs have the same quality as a walk--unscripted, unmapped, done for the sheer act of being in motion, of being outside, of talking it all in. Not in a hurry.

Exploring the world is one of the best ways to explore the mind, and walking travels both terrains. -Rebecca Solnit

Some folks espouse walking meditation. I'm with them on that. I find it more difficult and less helpful to sit cross-legged than to be in motion. My mind wants to ramble.

I'm glad I wandered across Solnit and her book. Thinking about what I want out of running, out of life, where I'm going, sometimes I need to be reminded not to be in a hurry. Not to be indoors. Not to miss what's going on around me. Some of the lessons inherent in walking somewhere. Anywhere.

...a certain kind of wanderlust can only be assuaged by the acts of the body in motion, not the motion of the car, boat, or plane. -RS


D.M. SOLIS said...

Very fine indeed--this, and your "trying to take life with a beginner's mind." I very much appreciate your work and your thoughts. Peace and all good things for you in writing and in life.


Michael Valliant said...

Thanks, Diane, for stopping by and commenting!