Have you ever noticed how much there’s to be seen when one walks, just slowly walks? Walking offers us the ability to move slowly and it’s the perfect way to be attentive to the world around us. We will be able to see big and small things that will fill us with joy and wonder. We would have missed all these wonderful treasures if we would for example move by car, wouldn’t we?!
I loved the patterns of leaves on this path and how it constantly changed by the play of sun and wind.
It seems as if walking is outdated. In this world, driven by hight speed and haste, I believe we need room for slowness and walking at a slower pace. Walking is, after all, the most natural, oldest, simplest and even the most refreshing way of moving there is.
It’s as if we’re all so used at the speed and efficiency of our society, we consider walking as a waste of time. The current mobility and progression goes hand in hand with stress and nervosity. This addiction to speed, technology and ‘growth for the sake of growth’, has become a collective obsession of our society.
During my latest walk (Zevenbronnen wandelpad in Walsbets) I enjoyed the wide view of the fields in faded colors, tiny villages and the shade of the trees but this pleasant feeling was suddenly interrupted by the dominant noise of fast traffic on the highway. It seemed the walking path was coming close to ‘the modernisation of our society’. It’s quite hard to find a place where one is only surrounded by nature without the interference of our modern world. At least, that’s how it is in this in my little populous country Belgium. Maybe it’s different where you live (I really hope so!)…
The rhythm of a walker is the perfect way to slow down. During a walk we can escape at this ever during flight forward. It creates some kind of oasis in the turbulence of time, in which one can let things go.
As walkers, we are discharged of the duty of productivity and efficiency, free from this ever time pressure which defines our daily lives. And that feels really beneficial; one is able to relax and be open to blend in the scenery. These moments of experiences of unity, harmony between human and nature, offers a feeling of pleasure and even happiness. That’s what walking slowly does to me. Have you also experienced this during your walks?
A walk is most beneficial when we’re fully present at the surrounding and at ourselves, when we’re completely available for the moment. That’s something that doesn’t come easily and can take some time. It requires we don’t wear a headset or have a mobile phone with us. Even a watch or a camera would distract us from being in the moment of our walk.
A walk is a kind invitation and a simple opportunity to temporary break with our usual habits and daily activities, to simplify life and bring it back to the elementary basics. Walking really fills us with cheerfulness and joie de vivre! Isn’t that what we all need every day?! It’s as if the world, just for a little while, is in harmony and as if there are no contradictions anymore between yourself and the landscape, as the day shows a certain perfection.
I would like to end my plea for slow walking with this excellent and wise quote of Joseph Amato:
“Walking establishes intimate contact with place. It attaches us to landscape- its trees, rocks, hills, and riverbanks. It makes us in good measure the streets, and paths we walk. It puts us in contact with local communities. Walking coagulates time, expands distance, and makes places dense and prickly with details and complexities. It expands and defends localities against reductionism and systematisation of roads, commerce, government, and mass culture. It makes the case for individual localities in an era of rampant globalism.
Walking does things for the individual walker as well. Beyond fostering health, walking allows the feet to lead the mind and heart; it gives us back our body and senses. With a fixed rhythm and established breathing, it releases the walker from his or her normally interrupted, if not conflict-filed, consciousness and provides an altered state of mind for prayer, reflection, or simply talking to oneself.”
Autumn is the perfect season for walking! So maybe when the restrictions caused by Covid-19, withhold you from your usual activities, you might find the time to walk and enjoy its benefits!
I hope your autumn season will be filled with many wander-wonder-walks, fresh air to inhale and crispy leaves underneath your feet!