April 10, 2020


Coronavirus: Walking is our only respite (Erling Kagge, April 10, 2020, Macleans)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that one can save time travelling only two hours from one point to another using modern technology like trains and planes, instead of spending eight hours walking. While this holds up mathematically, not being allowed to use public transportation reminds me that the opposite is equally true: time passes more slowly when I decrease my speed of travel by walking. Life feels long. 

When you are in a car driving towards a mountain, with small pools, slopes, rocks, moss and trees zooming past on all sides, life is curtailed; it gets shorter. You don't notice the wind, the scents, the weather, or the shifting light. Your feet don't get sore. Everything becomes one big blur.

And it isn't only time that grows smaller as one's pace increases. Your sense of space does too. Suddenly you find yourself at the foot of the mountain. Even your sense of distance has been stunted. Having travelled far, you may be tempted to feel like you've experienced quite a bit. But I doubt that's true.

When you have to walk along the same route, however--spending an entire day instead of a half-hour, breathing more easily, listening, feeling the ground beneath your feet, exerting yourself--the day becomes something else entirely. Little by little, the mountain looms up before you and your surroundings seem to grow larger. Becoming acquainted with these surroundings takes time. It's like building a friendship. The mountain up ahead, which slowly changes as you draw closer, feels like an intimate friend by the time you've arrived. Your eyes, ears, nose, shoulders, stomach and legs speak to the mountain, and the mountain replies. Time stretches out, independent of minutes and hours. 

And this is precisely the secret held by all those who go by foot: life is prolonged when you walk. Walking expands time rather than collapses it.

Posted by at April 10, 2020 6:19 PM


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