Updated: Oct 12, 2022
I went out today, and I just started walking…
So many times I spend weekends staying indoors, lazing around the house. Watching videos, maybe reading—or even playing some music. But then I go out for a moment, to dispose of the rubbish or buy some bread, or water. And when I do, I look up at the sky, breathe in the air around me and watch people stroll by: and I damn myself for not having been out there, enjoying the fresh air all day long.
So today I went out, and I just started walking. And it was so relaxing, so invigorating… I lazed around people and under the sun, around the nature of parks, and around the tranquility of the city on a Sunday early afternoon.
It was wonderful.
I brought a book, so that I could take it out and enrich my mind wherever I went: while having a snack at a random bar, or sunbathing under the full sunshine in the middle of a park.
I left my phone at home, and my watch, so that I wouldn’t get distracted and I could lose myself out there.
That is the thing: losing yourself. I do that when reading sometimes; I do that when writing; and I do that when playing music. And it brings me to another dimension, a place where I feel lifted off and lighter than air. That’s what immersing yourself in the arts does, and I love it.
But being around, being out there—walking—does it too.
There is such a power in the act of walking; such a simplicity and yet a combination of elements.
First of all, there is the way you walk. Are you in control of it? Maybe, or maybe not. Maybe you think about it for a moment but then forget it. Maybe you do not think about it at all—your posture, your stride. Being in control is difficult. After all, most of the time your mind is elsewhere, whether you’re walking relaxedly or hurriedly.
Secondly, there’s the fact that you don’t get the chance to notice the things around you as much as you do when you walk. It is only with the human, natural pace of walking that you can really observe people and places. So you start to really understand the place where you live: what kind of houses and buildings there are in different areas, and what kind of people live and gather there, and how they behave. You learn about social status and about manners; you learn about architecture and sustainability, about cultural as well as civic advancement. You learn about life.
Then, there is the fact that walking can really take you places. You just start walking, and you feel vulnerable and exposed, uncomfortable; but if you just give it a couple of hours, you’ll be surprised how far you’ve gone. It is always shocking, to learn how much ground we can cover in one day with our own two legs and determination. It is, I think, a lesson in life: that you do not necessarily need to be fast—you just need to get going.
Finally, there is the satisfaction of the achievement. Many times I have chosen to walk a great distance within the city because I didn’t want to feel jammed in an overcrowded bus, or get stuck in traffic. At first, I felt a little crazy, knowing it would take me much longer to get where I wanted. And I would always get there sweated out. But when you tell people what you’ve done and they stare at you in amazement, as if you’re talking about the impossible, then you feel special, and you feel strong. And when it has actually become normal, so that you do not notice the effort anymore, then you are already stronger.
Not to mention undertaking trails that last several days—even several weeks. That’s a real achievement, one that will stick with you forever. Crossing lands and landscapes, even cities and countries, is a conquest that belongs to you and you alone—no one else. That is a truly special feeling, one that puts you in touch with your very soul. When you have been out for days with your rucksack and your tent, and completed a trail by yourself, you really begin to understand what self-confidence actually means.
Be it in the woods or in the city, walking refreshes your body and mind, and puts you in touch with the real rhythm and sound of life. There is nothing greater than having been out all day, walking, enjoying the sun and the life around you, and feeling exhausted at the end of it. That very exhaustion is comparable to the joy that the experience has brought in you: the joy of having consumed a little more than the usual amount of life, on that particular day.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Madiha Foundation.