December 19, 2013


WALKING IS BEST (Colin Thubron, January/February 2014, Intelligent Life)

Many people have remarked on the curious relationship between walking and thinking. The rhythm of the body seems to free the mind, just as the rhythm of a mother's walk (it is imagined) puts at rest her babe-in-arms. Solvitur ambulando, declared the ancients: "it is solved by walking". Wordsworth wrote many of his poems on the move, as did John Clare. Nietzsche claimed to have made all his philosophical discoveries while walking, and Kierkegaard wrote that "I have walked myself into my best thoughts."

In an age when time is precious, walking has become a luxury. But of course it is among the earliest human desires (one-year-olds cannot stop). It is no surprise that pilgrims travelled on foot, and still do. The body purges the mind, and its primal contact with the ground reminds the pilgrim that we are dust. A few years ago the Chinese talked of building a road around Mount Kailash in Tibet: a mountain too sacred ever to have been climbed. In the end the idea of a pilgrimage by car was so bizarre that even the Chinese began to relent.

Posted by at December 19, 2013 3:29 PM

blog comments powered by Disqus