Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord. Walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them. It leaves us free to think without being wholly lost in our thoughts. ~ Rebecca Solnit
Walking has long been an escape, a discovery, a conversation starter and a form of meditation for me.
As a child I loved tearing off my shoes so I could feel thousands of tiny grains of sand squeeze up between my toes as a I searched for pretty shells at the beach (actually I still love doing this now). My ex-husband used to find the rhythm of walking and talking an easier way to share his thoughts with me, as if the methodic motion brought forth words that could not be said otherwise.
Walking has always allowed me to explore new places or get to somewhere without assistance. I walked into the eerie space inside the Great Pyramind at Giza, both awed at the size and majesty of the structure and appalled that it smelled like a public toilet. A Scottish squall didn’t stop me from walking around the Hebridean Isle of Harris in a day, drinking in the landscape that was both bleak and beautiful at the same time. And I once paced the streets of Barcelona at night searching for an internet cafe so I could read words of love from the boyfriend I was missing.
When my own words fail to come I’ve always found walking loosens them; so much so that I often lament the fact I never take a notebook and pen with me to jot down the ideas that always flow freely once my steps find their pace. Walking was at the top of my list of things I missed while recovering from my foot injury last year. For months I daydreamed about walking confidently again, drinking in fresh air by the gulp and experiencing the freedom I’d been denied by the need to elevate my right foot to ensure it healed.
Now walking has taken on a new purpose in my life. Freed from the constraints of the lounge, bandages and doctor’s stern words of last year, I jumped at the chance to join the Trek Towards a Cure in Peru with my friend Annalisa so we can raise much-needed funds for breast cancer research. Walking is not only a way to gain exercise and free my mind, but for the past three months has been training me for the many kilometres I will trek to Machu Picchu.
The beauty of the area in which I live suddenly presents training opportunities suitable for a high altitude trek. The fire trails of the Cataract Gorge are behind me and a quick walk down the steep steps on one side of the gorge means I can climb back up the Zig Zag steps into where the peacocks rule the First Basin. As my fitness grows and my body gets stronger my walking buddy Suse suggests longer, harder walks to Duck Reach, Mount Barrow and 10km (walking) marathons.
Read more about Rebecca Solnit’s thoughts on walking in this fantastic Brain Pickings post called Wanderlust.