Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Walking to think and write
"We do not belong to those who have ideas only among books," said Nietzsche, "it is our habit to think outdoors." Do you find your own indoor thoughts more bookish, your outdoor thoughts more natural and free? Do we need more practice during class, to notice the difference?
According to Solnit, Rousseau “laid the groundwork for walking” not pacing back and forth, but the walking that took Nietzsche out into the landscape. While Rousseau walked, he read and decided that man was better being ignorant than informed. The idea that ignorance brings happiness is a romantic one which does not help when you are crossing the desert and not understanding that the water ahead is a mirage or when you are in Rio for the Olympics quenching your thirst with cesspool water.
Walking is physically beneficial because exercise helps to improve blood circulation, some of which goes to the brain as well as the muscles. Being outside is usually more beneficial because you are getting fresh air and sunshine, unless you are in Delhi, India, Karachi, Pakistan, Lanzhou China, or even in some cities in the USA.
I like going outside to sit or walk just to give my eyes and ears a chance to experience and absorb sights and sounds: bees and butterflies alighting on a cone flower, doves cooing, rosters crowing, clouds floating in the sky, dogs barking, and birds singing. I enjoy looking at the trees as the wind ruffles their leaves and feeling the gentle breeze on my skin. These are moments to reflect on life and like Nietzsche spoke about writing, “An author who composes while walking, on the other hand, is free from such bonds; (referring to using hundreds of books to write another book) his thought is not the slave of other volumes, not swollen with verifications, not weighted with the thought of others.”
While walking is ideal, it is not essential. Someone confined to bed or in a wheelchair can derive the same benefit of being outside, pausing to be one with nature. We live in such a stressful, productivity-oriented society that we seldom have time to enjoy these precious moments before reality calls us back inside.