Walking is like that. Next to breathing it's about as basic as human activity gets. And yet we usually do it without giving it much thought. Often we dread it. Forget something at the store - and the walk back is not an enjoyable experience. Yet if our ability to walk were lost - and then magically restored, not even a stroll to the mailbox would ever be the same again.
The Utility of Movement
It surprises many people when they first hear that of all the most beneficial of exercises, walking is high on the list. It just doesn't register that this most fundamental method of human transportation is anything other that an expedient necessity. But the reality is that walking is restorative - both physically and mentally.
To walk in silence, not speaking or listening to another human being, is to treat both body and soul to something like what a warm bath is for sore muscles. It soothes. It calms. As the first five minutes passes, a certain clarity of thought begins to emerge as if from a shadow. And since you are alone, this clarity becomes your walking companion - and a different type of conversation begins; one between the you you always see, and the you in the shadow.
Thoreau believed that one should begin all walks as though you would never return; as though maybe you would just keep walking - arriving at a new home each evening. And in a very subtle yet profound way - he's right. For the path we take internally, when we really take the time and energy to focus on it, leaves us in an entirely different place each time. And we can never, no matter how hard we try, return to where we started that internal stroll.
Hand in hand
Walking and thinking were made for each other. Even the act of 'not thinking' while walking, is itself a form of thought. In-fact, that may be the purest form of thought there is. As though by not actively listening, we can finally hear.
So I often seek out places to walk - alone. I seek out the company of trees, streams, and dirt beneath my feet. I bathe in the solitude that is filled to capacity with every sound nature can muster. I listen to nothing; yet hear so much.
Each journey leaves me curious about where I will arrive; always joyful to be there when I do. And always certain that the only home I will ever know - is the destination I arrive at at the end of each stroll.