When my mother was a young girl in elementary school, the principal took her aside and said, “please come to my office during your break.” He then offered to give her walking lessons. She was mortified and immediately agreed to take lessons. It sounded awfully strange to me, but then again I never saw my mother walk before she had walking lessons. In any case, she walks perfectly normally now. Sometimes she walks rather loudly but that’s my only complaint.
Nobody can deny that walking is important. For getting from point A to point B, it sure beats running backwards, crawling, or throwing yourself to the ground repeatedly as a sign of adoring submission to the feet of a hated despot. Do you ever feel you must walk that way with your boss? I hope not.
I write tonight to examine a response from a friend to my post about the harm of spending lots of time indoors. He said that at first he thought it was a silly notion, but then “reconsidered” (the quotes are my own, to be explained in a moment). He reconsidered in part, he said, because of a book he’s reading. But also because when he was walking in the hills like his distant ancestor used to do, something remarkable happened.
But first, more about his ancestor. His ancestor would climb trees during raging storms for the sheer ecstatic joy of being alive and buffeted in the top of a swaying Douglas fir. Most other things paled to the magnificent force of Nature.
Anyhow, with this context, when my friend was walking in the hills recently, he encountered some wild animals. And sometime during his whole experience, the solution to a problem came to him — a problem that had seemed “intractable” to his lab. Now, I know my friend well enough to know that, like his Scottish ancestor, he certainly greatly values wild places. He doesn’t need much convincing of their importance, which is why I put “reconsidered” in quotation marks, in homage to his ancestor and his personal background as a National Park ranger. But he did raise an interesting question of whether it is actually important for the mind to get outside. And additionally, if it’s more important to some than to others.
This is relevant to your writing, by the way. I met a writer this summer who would take his dog for a five mile walk along the beach and then he would write. Never mind that he was writing a book about walking! Although he didn’t say it, I think it helped him clear his head and focus. Which was important to do BEFORE writing.