It is eleven days into the new year and I am still stuck between the old and the new. I have not made the transition; I have not glitter-doodled my journal for 2015; I have not collaged my intentions for the year; I have been stuck in old stuff that I carried with me into this bright, shiny new year.
Today a friend sent me a copy of Brain Pickings, a rather amazing collection of wisdom and thoughts, and it shook me out of my stupor and offered me a resolution … walking, or more accurately sauntering. Now, I have been an avid walker for as long as I can remember but suddenly I realized I have been only half-walking … walking in body and mind but not in spirit and connection with the world around me.
The realization that I have been missing much in my walking was sparked by Henry David Thoreau’s treatise on walking where he says (quoting from Brain Pickings) “(Thoreau) sets out to remind us of how that primal act of mobility connects us with our essential wildness, that spring of spiritual vitality methodically dried up by our sedentary civilization."
"Thoreau argues that the genius of walking lies not in mechanically putting one foot in front of the other en route to a destination but in mastering the art of sauntering. (In one of several wonderful asides, Thoreau offers what is perhaps the best definition of “genius”: “Genius is a light which makes the darkness visible, like the lightning’s flash, which perchance shatters the temple of knowledge itself — and not a taper lighted at the hearthstone of the race, which pales before the light of common day.”) An avid practitioner of hiking, Thoreau extols sauntering as a different thing altogether:
I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks — who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre, to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.
So, my first resolution for the year is to practice sauntering, to treat walking as a holy act and to allow the world to unfold in front of me.
About the image: I think while I was in San Cristóbal de las Casas, I did spend a fair amount of time sauntering, wandering aimlessly through streets and neighborhoods, following sights or sounds as they appeared ... finding my way to the sea. This wall art was one of the things that captured my attention.