The Art of Walking

photography by Terri Kern Pouliot

The Art of Walking

How do you enjoy walking? Are you merely going from point A to point B? Do you walk briskly for the cardiovascular benefits? Do your walks have a specific target or goal in mind? Have you ever simply ‘sauntered’ as Henry David Thoreau suggests?
Sauntering, while walking, is an experience. This type of walking is purely delicious and luxurious. It has no specific goal in mind. While sauntering, it allows the adventure to ebb and flow naturally. It’s open. Free. Expecting nothing, but receiving everything.
Thoreau viewed walking in a unique way. He considered walking to be more of a spiritual endeavor rather than mere exercise.

The walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise, as it is called, as the sick take medicine at stated hours — as the Swinging of dumb-bells or chairs; but is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day. If you would get exercise, go in search of the springs of life. Think of a man’s swinging dumbbells for his health, when those springs are bubbling up in far-off pastures unsought by him!

Thoreau was convicted by the thought that walking should involve a ‘connection’ with our natural world and approached with the mindset of becoming ‘fully present’. He believed that ‘busy’ was a conscious decision. He spoke of returning to his ‘senses’ after a saunter in the wild.

I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit. In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to Society. But it sometimes happens that I cannot easily shake off the village. The thought of some work will run in my head and I am not where my body is — I am out of my senses. In my walks I would fain return to my senses. What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?

Merriam-Webster defines the word ‘saunter’ as this;
  1. walk in a slow, relaxed manner, without hurry or effort.”Adam sauntered into the room”synonyms:stroll, amble, wander, meander, drift, walk; More
  1. 1.a leisurely stroll.”a quiet saunter down the road”
The Smithsonian explains where the origin of the word mostly likely derived:
The first modern use of the word “saunter” was in the 17th century, writes Hannah Osborne for International Business Times, and 19th-century writer Charles Baudelaire was the first to popularize this description of an urban saunterer or flâneur:

The crowd is his element, as the air is that of birds and water of fishes. His passion and his profession are to become one flesh with the crowd. For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite.

Consider sauntering on your next walk.  We don’t always need to ‘burn calories’ while walking.  Enter your walk with no expectations and with an open mind and heart.
Become immersed in your walk.

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