The therapeutic art of walking
I’ve just come home from a hiking trip in Silesian Beskids. I was very surprised by how the trip left me feeling. How I came home a little changed. I realized that what made such an impression on my overall being was the time spent simply on walking. Because that is what this trip was about. Just walking through the mountains, from point A to B, day after day.
Everything is simple when your walking. There are no conflicts, no roles, nor status, no one to impress or disappoint. You are just a body, a machine that needs only fuel, that moves one step after another. If you’re determined to get somewhere you only think about getting there. Then you stop, you re-fuel, rest, and start walking again. Your entertainment is the views, the cycle of day and night, and the environment that surrounds you. You start to appreciate the small – yet important – things. Grateful for the food that you eat and the air that you breathe.
For me walking is the most freeing activity. I was thinking “I can’t be the first one to find out about that”. I did some digging and found a book called “A Philosophy of Walking” by Frédéric Gros who had a similar epiphany. He said:
“By walking, you escape from the very idea of identity, the temptation to be someone, to have a name and a history. (…) The freedom in walking lies in not being anyone; for the walking body has no history, it is just an eddy in the stream of immemorial life.”
You finally stop chasing which is nowadays as primal of activity as breathing. We’re either chasing after a job position, or after good grades, or just purely after money. Of course, those are also fundamental truths in the modern-day world but it is healthy to ever so often let go of them and focus on what is actually most essential for our lives. And curiously enough when you quit chasing, suddenly a feeling of gratitude, appreciation, and just the pure happiness develops. You start to enjoy every little thing, forget about the things holding you back, and just be filled with good energy.
My trip was a short one – just a couple of days in the mountains – and yet, I noticed an apparent change after I came back. Suddenly, when waiting for a bus, cleaning or hoovering I didn’t want to listen to or watch anything. I was content with studying the environment around me, or just being engaged in the activity. I came home much calmer, much happier, and a lot less irritable.
This is one of the things you have to experience for yourself. Like always, I will try out different things so you can read about them, but in this case, I would recommend going on a hike right now since it is still summertime. I’m sure you will see for yourself and appreciate the therapeutic art of walking.