Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"I've walked myself into my best thoughts."

I live in the middle of a medium sized city which makes it easy for me to walk just about everywhere I need to go. And I also walk for exercise, although not enough. It does me good. It also provides time away from everything else — including the computer and every other kind of electronic entertainment — and thus the opportunity to reflect. My behavior is atypical for a variety of reasons including the fact that relatively few Americans live where walking is convenient. "Americans Do Not Walk The Walk, And That's A Growing Problem":
"Americans now walk the least of any industrialized nation in the world," says writer Tom Vanderbilt. To find out why that is, Vanderbilt has been exploring how towns are built, how Americans view walking — and what might be done to get them moving around on their own two feet. ....

"We've engineered walking out of our existence and everyday life," Vanderbilt says. "I even tried to examine the word 'pedestrian,' and it's always had sort of this negative connotation — that it was always better to be on a horse or something, if you could manage it."

In a series of stories for Slate about "The Crisis in American Walking," Vanderbilt writes about pedestrian life in America, from "sidewalk science" to possible ways to make the U.S. less car-centric. And he finds that what started as a push for convenience has become a difficult problem, as many parts of the country are now designed specifically for cars, not pedestrians.

And while Americans have cut down on walking, they've been putting on some pounds. ....

"Walking is really as natural as breathing," Vanderbilt says. "We're all born pedestrians."

Talking with Steve, Vanderbilt cites a thought on walking from philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, who said, "I've walked myself into my best thoughts."

"I think we've all had that experience, of just taking a walk to clear your head. And it lowers your stress," Vanderbilt says — then adds, "hopefully, it lowers your stress. Some places we have to walk in the U.S., it doesn't lower your stress." .... [more]
Kierkegaard:
“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Everyday, I walk myself into a state of well-being & walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, and the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. Thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.” [Søren Kierkegaard]
Americans Do Not Walk The Walk, And That's A Growing Problem : The Two-Way : NPR