The art of walking | Opinion – Murray Ledger and Times

Posted: April 3, 2020 at 2:50 am


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Lets take a timeout from politics.

The American Heart Associations National Walking Day is April 3. Walking will put your brain in a meditative state, reduces stress, boosts stress busting endorphins, with a partner boosts stress relieving benefits, boosts energy and reduces fatigue.

Whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent, uncertainty about employment, schooling, worry about health of family and friends, and isolation, a daily walk can reduce stress and alleviate mild depression that you may be feeling.

Many of my favorite writers have been walkers. Henry David Thoreau, William Wordsworth, Walt Whitman, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Mahatma Gandhi connected the working of their minds to the steady movement of their feet.

Walking with a purpose is taken as a sign that people are focused, with eyes on the prize. But the art of walking is not about purpose or a prize. As Immanuel Kant maintained, the creation of beauty is embodied in a purposiveness without a definite purpose. The art of walking is all about this purposeless purpose.

We typically walk in order to get somewhere: the grocery store, get the mail, to confer with someone at work. We need to walk the dog or walk in protest like Murrays Womens March for Social Justice. We walk to get in shape, counting our steps on a Fitbit. Our walking becomes a matter of proving, achieving, gaining, or winning.

The frantic attempt to get somewhere, and to be on time, amounts to a Sisyphean struggle, a task that is endless. In Greek legend Sisyphus was punished in Hades for his misdeeds in life by being condemned eternally to roll a heavy stone up a hill.

When walking, we reach a destination, then we must immediately set off again, intent on the next stopping place, then again and again.

Walking is increasingly measured by technological gadgets worn on wrists. We spend an increasing amount of time screening our world using a smart phone screen that captures objects of immediate interest. Instead of asking What do I see? We are told instead how to see, and often what to feel much of which is determined by an algorithm.

Lets instead pursue the art of walking, the opposite of screening the world we live in, and no set of rules. Walking can be a brief respite in our coronavirus stressed lives, allowing us to see life for ourselves again, not unlike a child does. In walking, we can just step out the front door, pay attention, and perceive and feel.

As a pilgrim, or an evening stroller, the pilgrim ambles for the sake of a blessing; an evening stroller may seek digestive benefits, whether walking with a companion or encountering neighbors along the way.

When we walk without a goal, there is a certain beauty in the awareness of being fully alive while moving through a given space in time. This experience cannot be gotten on a page or a smartphone screen, but only through eyes, ears, nose and skin: the sensation of light, of a buildings grace, of streams and rocks, wind and leaves, fragrances of nature, and a boundless horizon.

Someone might say, what is the point of simply ambling along? This would be like asking what the point of watching a sunset is or smelling a rose. The answer is simple: for the experience alone.

A genuine experience of the art of walking is aimless, while we can experience sunsets, fragrance of flowers, and the sounds of animals and insects.

We can travel through this world by walking in a state of awareness. We can behold, rather than being told.

When we give ourselves over to the art of walking, we exist in the moment for no reason other than that of the experience alone, for the appreciation of beauty. There is no purpose in this occurrence, only the immeasurable effect it has on our nerves, our body, our being.

We have many excellent quiet neighborhoods, many miles of new sidewalks. We have a college campus with many possible circuits. Find a partner, practice social distancing, and take your mind off the stressors of this moment.

See you out there on the walkways at a safe!

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The art of walking | Opinion - Murray Ledger and Times

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April 3rd, 2020 at 2:50 am

Posted in Nietzsche