Friday, April 20, 2012

Finding my stride

'Pedestrian' is another word that has been sadly maligned in our language. It is used to mean something quite mundane, something so ordinary that it is not worthwhile. Yet in our world to chose to travel by foot is to choose something quite radical.

I have recently been finding my stride, quite literally. I have reinvented myself, and once again become one who walks.

I had always been a walker. From the first time I defied my over-protective mother and took myself on foot to the local corner store, and even earlier, spending many childhood weekends wandering in the bush at my family's farm, entertained by nothing more than walking and daydreaming, I have been addicted to freedom of movement without restraint or assistance. It has always been for me a pastime in itself, not just a means of travel. Whether indulging in angsty music as a teen in a local pocket of bushland, wandering the streets of London in my early 20s, or making my way around the markets and sights of my home-town, my own two feet were the means of changing the scenery. To walk is to deliberately experience life slowly, to experience the passing wonders in real time. Yet it is also to choose a space that is not offered by stationary contemplation. It is as though my mind requires my body to be in motion to allow my thoughts to flow. Sometimes the only possible way to clear my head, find a solution, or fully grasp an artistic inspiration, is to get outside and move. Whether in an urban jungle with strangers rushing past, or a magic forest with only nature for company, when I walk the world becomes nothing but my body and my mind.

Yet in recent years I lost the art of walking. In love with a non-walker, I found no reason to leave the sofa. All the inspiration I needed for my wandering thoughts, for peace and for joy, were lounging in my home. Why seek a change of scenery, when the scene I most desired was settled in one place? But somewhere inside I still considered myself a walker. You could see it in my accoutrements, my choice of shoes, my insistence on a back-pack, my girl-guide worthy set of necessities always with me. I was not prepared to become a lounger forever.

So I began to find my way back. At first I forced myself to walk, in the hope that it would become habit. For the health of my body I decided that the only way to get to work was on foot, and more and more made sure it was the ONLY way. I have coerced my love into joining me too, to wander in our local park, to visit friends and entertainment, insistent that we must not drive. We remain living close to the city and its entertainment districts deliberately, and I have decided that to do so and NOT walk is to waste our proximity, our youth and our freedom. And over time, it has begun to sink in, I have begun to view myself as a walker once more. I have begun to crave the physical movement and the freedom.

I love that walking requires no equipment. I walk in my normal clothes, my jeans or my dresses, whatever I'm in the mood for aesthetically. My personal uniform has always included walkable shoes, my mary-jane docs are just part of my look, as well as the only tools I need to get from one place to another. The city provides regular water-fountains should I stray further than intended and be away for thirsty hours, and my inner compass has always allowed me to find my way home.

I'm so pleased to be a walker once more. It feels like I am truly 'me' again. As I stride my way through my city I feel powerful and independent. And when I get home, bubbling over with inspiration, my love is still there, offering the peace and joy he always has, but now I bring home a little of the outside world and a little more 'me' back to him.