I go for walks every afternoon. Some days I wonder what would happen if I just kept walking.
I live in a place that has woods, trails, crooked streets, stairways and paths that go on for miles and miles. And in these glory days of Spring, I walk through an infinity of flowers, many growing wild and free.
I stop to smell their heavenly scents.
Lately I’ve been thinking about Robert Louis Stevenson. He’s one of my favorite writers. Not so much the books he wrote for his son, Kidnapped and Treasure Island. But his poetry, essays and other books, especially on travel, like his essay called, “Walking Tours.”
In the 1800s Walking Tours were very popular. People spent weeks and even months walking. Can you imagine? They walked all around Europe, exploring the nooks and crannies. RLS’ descriptions of his walking tours are very enticing, not to mention humorous.
Walking is a whole different way to experience travel.
I compare it especially to today. We have machinery to get us where we want to go. We measure success by how fast we get there. Not by the scent of the roses along the way.
Hiking is also big here. I don’t find there to be much difference between hiking and marching.
I do enjoy hiking and have done quite a bit of it.
But what I’m talking about here, what I’m enjoying a whole lot these days, is strolling, and ambling. It’s a whole different experience. In 1828 Noah Webster defined strolling as a wandering on foot; a walking idly and leisurely and ramble is to walk without restraint. It’s a I wonder where this path goes … let’s take it and find out.
Boy, they sure knew a lot about walking back in the 1800’s! I sure would have liked to amble with either RLS or Noah.
And I’m loving it these days. It’s a going slow enough to drink in everything around me, discovering immense sources of pleasure in the small things you miss if you’re moving fast.
Like these roses in the picture, the impossibly delicate pink, the millions of brand new buds, hiding, waiting to burst into dazzling flower. They smell as good as they look. It’s not something you want to rush though. I linger with them until I’m thoroughly intoxicated.
My neighbors march past me. They’re energetic. Vigorous. They’re not strolling. They’re marching. I enjoy their energy, the way they energetically tackle the hills in my neighborhood. It’s all smiles and warm greetings.
But these afternoons are moments in my life where I enjoy the world going by and feel no need to keep up. I work fast throughout the day. And then I go slow.
Slows slow allows me to notice and drink in the world. The beauty of the sky. The beauty of the clouds. The intricate design of tree trunks. The deep purple petals of flowers never before seen. The scent of pine and jasmine. The soulful eyes of squirrels stopping to check out the scene. The songs of individual birds.
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a lot about the joys of walking, and of sitting by the fire at the end of the day, watching the flames, enjoying his “journey into thought”.
It’s truly this journey of feeling all my senses come alive, and the joy of thought, that refreshes my spirit every afternoon. Each day completely different. Discovery of new flowers, new views, new clouds, new breezes, new intoxicating scents.
I wonder what would happen if I just kept walking …