What I learn from the footpath

Robert at Middle Zone Musings has a group writing project called “What I learned from…” and this months’ theme is “What I learned from the sidewalk“. Here in Australia, we generally don’t use that word, but I’ve decided to take part anyway. Call it a gesture for cross-cultural understanding : )

I do a lot of walking. It’s my preferred mode of transport and my favourite form of meditation. When I’m troubled or having trouble sleeping I go for long walks in the evening, and it always helps. There’s something about movement that makes it hard to wallow. When I’m walking I can examine my problems with objectivity. It’s easier to separate out the emotions from the issues and look at all the paths I can take. At the same time, it’s almost impossible for me to spend the whole walk focused on the negative.

For example, I might start out thinking about an argument I had with my husband. Why can’t he get home from work earlier? Then I’ll start thinking through all the things I could do before he gets home. Or how I could make him come home earlier – but this seems futile. I’d like it so much better if he didn’t work so much. It would be awesome if we could take some time off and travel more. We could travel for a really long time if we bought a van and camped. I’d love to go up to the Daintree, and I know Ryan wants to go back to the NT. We could take our climbing gear and explore, and I could write articles for Wild Magazine…

See what I mean? Somehow thinking and walking lets my mind run free.

So walking shakes my thoughts loose. But it grounds me in space, as well. Working in a notebook or on the internet, you can get the impression that physical location doesn’t matter. But as humans, we exist in real space, not just cyber space. We are intimately connected with the ground we walk on, the people and places that surround us. When I walk, I can pass enormous diplomatic residences and neglected public housing. A little further and I can walk among the kangaroos on the hill. Or I can head downhill to the lake, and some of the most manicured gardens in Australia. I love this city, the diversity in such short distances and the immediacy of wide open spaces.

Walking connects me to my landscape and my community as well as my thoughts.  There’s always something new for me to learn or realise on the pavement.


9 responses to “What I learn from the footpath

  1. What a wonderful lesson, Kristin! I love the connection you found between where you walk and what you’re thinking – I’ll have to remember that one…

    Thanks so much for participating the this month’s WILF! Tip o’ the hat to ya!

  2. Pingback: Middle Zone Musings » All Entries: What I Learned From a Sidewalk

  3. Walking is great. My wife and I love to walk together (and with the kids, if they’ll join us). It’s a good opportunity to put the body in motion and that often sets the mind in motion too.

  4. Your walks sound wonderful; I’d love to come along!

  5. Hi, I followed Robert’s sidewalk/footpath to your site. I too have found walking to be a great way to get a new perspective. It seem make problems look smaller and opportunities look bigger when we see that there is a lot of world outside the small world we live in most of our lives, don’t you think?

  6. Pingback: Middle Zone Musings » We Have a Winner!

  7. I call it a hike, no buildings, no people, here in the mountains of New Mexico USA. Unending trails, empty brain (That’s good– no thinking.) If I don’t hike or bike I don’t sleep well.

  8. Beautiful prose. I saw you wished for better communication. I think you’ve got the writing part down! I like how walking grounds you, yet sets you free.

  9. What a great way to look at it. You have inspired me to go outside and walk and think. I always feel that my mind is cleared. The idea that we are connected to that space we are in is so powerful. Wondeful stuff


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