Sunday, May 31, 2009
John Adams loved to walk. According to David McCullough's biography, Mr. Adams sometimes took ten or fifteen mile walks around Washington, to "clear his head." Can you imagine? In those funny white hose? The shoes from the late 18th century could not have been ergonomically correct. But he did it anyway. Those founding fathers were tough.
Lincoln, too, liked walking. While he was president, he often walked from the White House to the Capitol, perhaps passing (and tipping his tall hat to) Walt Whitman, a guy who also loved to walk.
Whenever I take a big walk, I love thinking about how my feet are tracing the same paths as our early presidents, that I'm stepping into the footprints of great poets like Whitman.
I love the spaciousness of walking. Just like everything else in my life, I like the fact that walking takes time. It's a slow way (comparatively) to travel from point A to point B, emphasizing to me, over and over, that it's the journey, not the destination, that matters.
Yesterday I walked for hours through the gorgeous day, stopping here and there, of course, for a glass of iced tea, or a quick visit to the National Gallery. (I highly recommend the Luis Melendez show. Imagine a very realistic painting of artichokes set in front of a wild, stormy landscape, or a painting of a milk tin artfully arranged next to garlic cloves and beef. Yes, beef. Completely cool, if you ask me.)
I do my best thinking while walking. I breathe, gaze around, take pictures, of course. Walking is a big part of my spiritual practice. My only regret from yesterday is that I forgot to put on sunscreen. Oops. I'll remember next time.
Prince Charming's stylish foot.