None of your knowledge, your reading, your connections will be of any use here: two legs suffice, and big eyes to see with. Walk alone, across mountains or through forests. You are nobody to the hills or the thick boughs heavy with greenery. You are no longer a role, or a status, not even an individual, but a body, a body that feels sharp stones on the paths, the caress of long grass and the freshness of the wind. When you walk, the world has neither present nor future: nothing but the cycle of mornings and evenings. Always the same thing to do all day: walk. But the walker who marvels while walking (the blue of the rocks in a July evening light, the silvery green of olive leaves at noon, the violet morning hills) has no past, no plans, no experience. He has within him the eternal child. While walking I am but a simple gaze.
We have little needs and we have deeper needs.
We have fallen into the mistake of living from our little needs til we have almost lost our deeper needs in a kind of madness. Let us prepare now for the death of our present little life and the re-emergence in a bigger life in touch with the moving cosmos. It is a question practically of relationship. We must get back into relation, vivid and nourishing relationship to the cosmos and the universe. The way is through daily ritual and re-awakening. We must once more practice the rituals of dawn and noon and sunset, the ritual of kindling fire and pouring water, the ritual of the first breath and the last. To these rituals we must return or we must evolve them to suit our needs. For the truth is we are perishing for the lack of fulfillment of our greater needs. We are cut off from the great sources of our inward nourishment and renewal, sources which flow eternally in the universe.
Vitally, the human race is dying. It is like a great uprooted tree with its roots in the air. We must plant ourselves again in the universe.
~ D. H. Lawrence
This ancient Latin phrase loosely translates as “It is solved by walking.” A walk is a journey that requires very little — neither planning nor passport, neither ticket nor equipment. Nearly always at our disposal, a walk provides so much more than just a change of scenery. Walking has helped me decide what is wise and what is foolhardy, has made me fall in love with a place, has batted away my melancholy. Walking has helped me loosen the grip technology has on my life, giving me space and permission to disconnect from my devices that beg for my attention and feed my anxiety. Most of all, walking has nurtured my creativity as I struggle to give tangible form to abstract ideas.
~ Bonnie Smith Whitehouse, in the introduction to Afoot and Lighthearted: A Journal for Mindful Walking
When a group of people sing together, we make up a chorus. When birds do, it’s more like a whole symphony orchestra.
~ Laura Erickson, The Bird Watching Answer Book
There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.
~ Robert Lynd, The Blue Lion
The walks are the unobtrusive connecting thread of other memories, and yet each walk is a little drama in itself, with a definite plot with episodes and catastrophes … and it is naturally interwoven with all the thoughts, the friendships, and the interests that form the staple of ordinary life.
~ Leslie Stephen
MEANDER, n. To proceed sinuously and aimlessly. The word is the ancient name of a river about one hundred and fifty miles south of Troy, which turned and twisted in the effort to get out of hearing when the Greeks and Trojans boasted of their prowess.
~ Ambrose Bierce
There is no mystery in this association of woods and otherworlds, for as anyone who has walked the woods knows, they are places of correspondence, of call and answer. Visual affinities of color, relief and texture abound. A fallen branch echoes the deltoid form of a streambed into which it has come to rest. Chrome yellow autumn elm leaves find their color rhyme in the eye-ring of the blackbird. Different aspects of the forest link unexpectedly with each other, and so it is that within the stories, different times and worlds can be joined.
~ Robert Macfarlane, The Wild Places