Day 9

 

“If I could not walk far and fast, I think I should just explode and perish.”  – Charles Dickens

 

My heart goes out to all those hyperactive boys and girls who are forced to sit at their desks all day and think.  My body needs to move in order for my brain to work.  

When I was girl, I walked to and from school, often in lieu of taking the bus. In my early college years I used to walk an hour each way to and from the office where I worked before and after classes.  Living in Manhattan and later, in Chicago  (a great walking city),   I often walked two miles or more between work and home, carrying my high heels in a thick canvas bag

 The daily walk — what used to be called a constitutional – undertaken on ordinary and extaordinary days, frees  my mind to wander along with my body. It’s almost as if one keeps the other in check: a racing mind propels my arms and legs, a moving body slows the mind.  When I’m tired, walking gives me a second wind. When I’m stressed, walking smooths away the rough edges of tension.

“The sum of the whole is this,” Dickens said. “Walk and be happy; walk and be healthy. The best way to lengthen out our days is to walk steadily and with a purpose.”

Dickens, a chronic insomniac, is known to have walked the streets and docks of Victorian London until dawn, where he observed the underside of London’s nightlife and met the prostitutes, beggars, thieves, paupers, and drunks who populated many of his novels.   It wasn’t unusual for Dickens to walk ten to twenty miles at a time.

I’m sure there’s a science to it, and in time I’ll be thinking about exactly what kinds of changes the mind-body undergoes when we walk. For now, I’m simply glad to be in the good company of others who’ve walked regularly for fresh  air, inspiration, and the reliable solace found in the rhythm of walking.  Maybe this year I’ll get to London, and walk some of Dickens’ favorite streets.

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