There’s also a clear link between exploring a place on foot, and exploring the mind. Since the times of the roving philosophers of ancient Greece, many have walked to think: Hippocrates (dubbed the “Father of Western Medicine”) was known for saying “walking is the best medicine.” William Wordsworth is famously said to have walked 180,000 ponderous miles during his lifetime; Jean-Jacques Rousseau claimed to be unable to think without taking to his feet; and Friedrich Nietzsche unable to write unless he’d rambled up a mountain. In more recent times, Steve Jobs was known for taking walking meetings.
Sadly, most of us might not reach the level of inspirational brainwaves as Nietzsche and co., but I can identify with the idea of the brain working in tandem with feet; of thinking at three miles an hour.
Walking, then, is about so much more than keeping the mind and body fit; and equally, it extends beyond just taking us to the top of a high mountain or across a desert—although those are certainly enviable achievements. It’s also fun and revitalizing, and a way to connect and understand.
I like the idea we can walk not just from place to place, but from conversation to conversation, and from story to story, creating our own individual narrative—with footsteps. That, as much as anything else, is a good reason to strap on a rucksack, pack some sandwiches, lace up our boots, and experience life at a walking pace.