“But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
To fall down at your door.”
I’d imagine, after a thousand miles, most of us would want to fall down.
Ten thousand steps is the more popular song to sing today – I was gifted a fitbit so try to walk my ten thousand each day. Though, by the end of a recent graduation ceremony, which turned into an hour of clapping, I completed most of my steps without taking any!
Rebecca Solnit reflects on what walking makes possible:
‘Walking shares with making and working that crucial element of engagement of the body and the mind with the world, of knowing the world through the body and the body through the world.’*
Reflecting the thinking of phenomenologist Edmund Husserl, Solnit writes:
‘The body […] is our experience of what is always here, and the body in motion experiences the unity of all its parts as the continuous “here” that moves toward and through the various “theres.”‘*
We are more than a continuity of self, though, we are also a changing self – metaphored in the ship of Theseus.
This possibility of being changed as we walk appears to be under threat. We can move faster in various boxes, separated from the “various theres” through which we move. We often work in spaces that confine us, swapping sensory enrichment with sensory deprivation:
“If the body is a metaphor for our locatedness in space and times and this for the finitude of human perception and knowledge, then the postmodern body is no body at all.”**
Even if we get the feeling that we want to change we often struggle to know how … and for why. Yet, as Ed Catmull reminds us, not being able to change our minds can be downright dangerous – especially to ourselves:
‘I think the person who can’t change his or her mind is dangerous.’^
To walk is to provide ourselves with the opportunity of seeing more, feeling more, towards doing more. When we’re speeding through life it’s hard to change direction, or even to see the possibilities of change.
At three miles an hour we can spot the new directions.
We walk to explore:
‘Maps can change a life, a person, returning us to dreams, to our childhood, to the poetic, to what is real. They can move us forward to what we didn’t even know were looking for. A map can change a god-awful day or month, ruin a rut, give us directions home and to everywhere else, near and far, to the golden past and today, to the centre and back to the periphery, to our true selves, our lost selves, the traveller, the mystic, the child, the artist.’^^