Brain Food #589
Thoughts of the day
The act of walking has been celebrated throughout the ages, not just as a form of exercise, but also as a creative tool, and form of self-therapy.
Aristotle conducted his lectures while walking, with his followers being known as the peripatetics, which translates into those who wander around. Thoreau took frequent walks in nature, and even wrote an entire essay dedicated to the topic. Virginia Woolf would recite her drafts to herself while walking, and the theme of walking even found itself in one of her famed novels, Mrs Dalloway.
Walking can clear the mind, and remove the need to preoccupy ourselves with some other task, which is more likely to happen while sitting down, with virtually nothing to do apart from being alone with ourselves.
Lauren Elkin captures all of this in her treatise on walking, Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London.
“Why do I walk? I walk because I like it. I like the rhythm of it, my shadow always a little ahead of me on the pavement. I like being able to stop when I like, to lean against a building and make a note in my journal, or read an email, or send a text message, and for the world to stop while I do it. Walking, paradoxically, allows for the possibility of stillness.”
Woman Walking is a sculpture by Alberto Giacometti, done in his characteristic style. The elongated haunting figure seems serene, even though her stride is small. She is caught between movement and stillness, almost echoing Elkin’s words. Putting one foot in front of the other, as a friend described it, is still a move forward.