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.