Sunday, May 31, 2009

Walkabout



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.

27 comments:

Lisa said...

walking saves my life Reya, it really does- it gets me and the hounds out, and gets me out of my head...........I love to walk and like you often think about who's footsteps i am tracing....beautiful.....

analogman said...

We (Scout, Marla, and I) walked to look for turtle tracks on a gloriously beautiful morning today. No walking in the footsteps of brilliant forefathers though (maybe someday), just crabs and sandpipers. It's bliss!

Auntie, aka Dog Girl said...

Yesterday was a day made for walking. The weather was gorgeous. It's good to leave the purse at home and go hands-free with a fanny pack (for wallet, keys,etc). Sunglasses/cap a must. Like you, yesterday I forgot the sunscreen too.
I walked all around City Island with Coco. Truly therapeutic.

Reya Mellicker said...

Crabs and sandpipers are, in a way, our ancestors. Sounds wonderful.

Lisa I love the idea of you and I, on opposite sides of the planet, walking and thinking.

A little bit of a sunburn is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

John Hayes said...

Walking is, I think, one of the real joys of urban life--walking thru various neighborhoods was one of my favorite things about my San Francisco years.

Joanne said...

I'm a walk-a-holic, so totally get everything in your post. I walk wherever and whenever I can, and love the idea of tracing footsteps. Walking, you're right, is the best form of thinking.

Meri said...

Obviously Adams and Lincoln didn't have the logistics issues that modern presidents suffer. As for me, I must be following the path of Croatian and Danish fisherfolk who settled my little town back in the late 1800s.

lakeviewer said...

Walking is the only prescription for healthful living that doesn't cost anything. Imagine how much friendlier the world would be if we all knew our neighbors.

Rain said...

You're so funny Reya showing Prince Charming's stylish foot, ha ha. I agree that I also do my best thinking while walking, in fact, I call my hikes my "nature therapy". Beautiful photo of the cloud, the first thing I saw was a t-shirt drying on the clothesline!

Poetikat said...

Sunscreen and a big, uv-protecting hat! Don't forget, Reya. The sun is both our friend and foe.
There have been some really nice walking sorts of days lately, haven't there?

Kat

Barry said...

I love to walk as well, but I don't think the footsteps of any great historical figures proceeded me.

Still you can't have everything and somebody has to be first. Well, actually my dog is running on ahead of me, so I get to be second.

Phoenix said...

Lovely.. walking is my life.. yes, clears the mind, helps think, revitalizes and what not...

Merle Sneed said...

There really is nothing like a good walk.

Mary Ellen said...

Now that my old dog is good for a half-block at best, I probably need to set off on my own. Great day for it - think I'll take a walk!

mum said...

Sounds wonderful. Every chance I get, I head out with Cybèle, unfortunately not for as long as we'd both like. The best bits of 'writing' happen that way - something about the rythm of walking, maybe?

Enjoy, Reya.

k-brow said...

Ouch, sunburn! DC is prime walking territory.

I love Prince Charming's stylin' sockless shoe!

Mrs. E said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who contemplates what other feet have trod the path that I am walking. (Though, none quite so historic or well known as those that walked the path in DC.) And someday, I hope to walk where Julius Caesar and William Shakespeare trod. (Such a sophomore English teacher!) Hopefully, next summer. Saving for that trip.

California Girl said...

I miss having a nice flat landscape on which to live. I'm up on a mountain and my knee doesn't go for the up and down any longer. When I lived in the Fan in Richmond, I walked or jogged every day. It was wonderful. You capture great photos on your excursions.

Bee said...

I think that walking is my MAIN spiritual practice. I walk every day; and if it were possible, I would never use a car.

Sig gave me Wanderlust: A History of Walking for Xmas, and you remind me that I need to delve into that. I have all sorts of long walks planned for when my kids are grown.

The picture of the shoe was too perfect.

Cyndy said...

Today I walked back and forth across my lawn for three hours behind the lawnmower. It was a nice day for cutting the grass too!

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

You know, President Harry Truman loved to walk as well. He went on morning strolls & would wave to folks. Pity we can't allow our presidents to go on these walks... too dangerous.
I enjoy walking also, but don't do it as much as I'd like or should.

Ronda Laveen said...

We have so many beautiful places and trails to walk here. I am truly spoiled. Loved the Prince Charming shoe shot. Cinderella is very much about shoes. Kind of a reverse here.

Delwyn said...

Hi Reya,
and don't good walking shoes become important when you do a lot of your meditating, thinking and exercise a pied....

Happy walking Days

Reya Mellicker said...

Ronda - YES. Didn't even think about the shoe connection. Wow.

And yes I have several pairs of walking shoes.

I love thinking about Cyndy walking behind the lawn mower, or you, Barry, walking in Lindsay's footprints - an honor!

Bee I'd better go find that book. Sounds like my cup of tea.

Didn't know about Truman. Cool! I'm walking in his footprints, too. Excellent.

karen said...

I love walking, too! So good for the soul and the body too x

Andrea said...

Walking is probably one of my top 3 things to do, if not #1. My mind is clear and my body happy when I walk!

Barbara Martin said...

Walking is so good for one's soul, even if the skies are overcast and threatening rain. Beautiful post.