I’m a walker.
Always have been, always will be.
When I was wee, I would struggle to catch up to my older sister and brother when we would walk to Becker’s convenience store with candy money, and collect “treasures” in a paper bag on the Bruce Trail every Sunday on our family hikes. My childhood best friend and neighbour and I would walk around the neighbourhood block every night at least two or three times. As we became teenagers, we wandered away from the neighbourhood and took the entire town into our nightly rambles. From the Niagara Escarpment to Lake Ontario, we went wherever our feet took us, talking and dreaming and laughing in the way that only the best of friends can. Is it any surprise that she’s now an artist and I’m a writer?
Walks are where inspiration flows.
I still walk everywhere because I don’t have a car, it’s more environmentally-friendly and for the sheer enjoyment of it. I sometimes entertain the sneaking suspicion that people in town think I’m “special needs” because no one between the ages of 16-50 actually walks anywhere. At the same time, I don’t care. When I’m feeling stressed out and need a breather, I walk. When I need inspiration, the creativity is overflowing by the time I reach my house at the end of the rendez vous. With my iPod in hand piping only the best musical accompaniment into my ears, I walk my way into shape, into health, into sanity, and into renewed creativity. I discover things. I have revelations. I commune with nature. I communicate with God. I stumble into loveliness …
I would have made a fabulous writerly woman in the 19th-20th century, rambling around fashionable London at twilight in a long trench and gloves, a skinny clove cigarette dangling from my lips (smoking is only cool in the fantasies where you travel back in time, back when it was harmless to smoke). In Virginia Woolf’s gorgeous essay, “Street Haunting: A London Adventure,” I found a kindred spirit in the love of therapeutic walking. She writes:
The evening hour, too, gives us the irresponsibility which darkness and lamplight bestow. We are no longer quite ourselves. As we step out of the house on a fine evening between four and six, we shed the self our friends know us by and become a part of that vast republican army of anonymous trampers …
There’s no shortage of thoughtful and inspirational quotes pertaining to walking, hiking, and being in nature. I’ve included some that particularly speak to me and express the goodness of walking more eloquently than I ever could, followed by my favourite wandering music. Enjoy!
Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow — Henry David Thoreau
If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk — Raymond Inmon
My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing — Aldous Huxley (me too!)
After a day’s walk everything has twice its usual value — George Macauley Trevelyan
I dream of hiking into my old age — Marlyn Doan
Thoughts come clearly while one walks — Thomas Mann
In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks — John Muir
Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it — Soren Kierkegaard
Walks. The body advances, while the mind flutters around it like a bird — Jules Renard (I couldn’t have put it better myself!)
I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read and all the friends I want to see — John Burroughs (a resounding Amen!)
How can you explain that you need to know that the trees are still there, and the hills and the sky? Anyone knows they are. How can you say it is time your pulse responded to another rhythm, the rhythm of the day and the season instead of the hour and the minute? No, you cannot explain. So you walk — Author unknown, from New York Times editorial, “The Walk,” 25 October 1967
I’m the walkingest girl around. I like to work at it — really get my heart pounding — Amy Yasbeck (that’s me to a T!)
We live in a fast-paced society. Walking slows us down — Robert Sweetgall
Walking is good for solving problems — it’s like the feet are little psychiatrists — Pepper Giardino
There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country. A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo. Even a bicycle goes too fast — Paul Scott Mowrer, The House of Europe
I stroll along serenely, with my eyes, my shoes, my rage, forgetting everything — Pablo Neruda, translated (one of my favourite poets)
The night walked down the sky with the moon in her hand — Frederick L. Knowles
join me for a stroll?
And now, music to walk and get lost to, which is different from music to drive to because it has less a driving quality and more of a … wandering aimlessly quality:
- “Letting the Cables Sleep”–Bush
- “Beneficial Herbs”–Kasabian
- Plants and Animals, all of it
- Patrick Watson, all of it
- “Coconut Skins”–Damien Rice
- “Days I Had”–Kings of Convenience
- “I am Human”–The Smiths
- “To Be Alone with You”–Sufjan Stevens
- “Her Morning Elegance”–Oren Lavie
- “Last Goodbye”–Jeff Buckley
- “Autumn Sweater”–Yo La Tengo
- “Black Rain, Black Rain”–AA Bondy
- “For Emma, Forever Ago”–Bon Iver
- “Maps”–Yeah Yeah Yeahs
- “Orange Sky”–Alexi Murdoch
- “One Big Holiday”–My Morning Jacket
- Beirut, all of it
- “You and I are a Gang of Losers”–The Dears
- “Christobel”–Joan as Police Woman
- “Hold Me”–Fleetwood Mac