An Amble Ramble

Came across this little overview of five philosophers on the joys of walking. A nice little read (although it didn’t really say all that much) coming a week or so after the Art of Manliness sent me its “20 Rules for Walking“. This is an excellent list and I heartily endorse all 20 rules (with minor caveats and/or occasional adjustments).

Last year I also came across a slightly more elaborate examination of the topic, in this article about Kenneth Grahame and his musings on perambulation. This is the beginnings of a rabbit-hole down which one can explore the wandering thoughts of various other pedestrian luminaries on the virtues of bipedal locomotion, one of whom suggests that “the mind, like the feet, works at about three miles an hour”. It follows, of course, that mighty intellectual feats increase in direct proportion to minutes spent in peripatetic motion.

(The Grahame article also introduced me to Brain Pickings, which is itself a fascinating rabbit-warren of a blog.)

Mt Stranger

View from Mt Stranger. Relevant because I took the photo after walking up Mt Stranger.

Rule #7 in the AoM list – No Headphones – is in my opinion perhaps the most important (although Rule #8 – Ignore Rule #7 Sometimes – is also important). Walking is a thoroughly sensory experience, and head/earphones dull not only hearing but the other four senses as well. The sounds of whatever environment one walks in are an essential component of the walk. This includes the poetic rhythm of footsteps, which is its own kind of music. The crunch of gravel, swish of grass, plod of dirt, clack of pavement, and even the flip flop of flip flops provide a backdrop to mental meanderings and can seem to act as a sort of metronome for cerebral activity.


Seven kangaroos on a hill. Relevant because I took the photo while walking with my children, and because the seven kangaroos walked away shortly after this was taken.

Walking can be one of the great joys of life, and is a habit I am trying to rebuild. Even when there’s not the time for a vigourous run or an adventurous hike, grabbing a few steps here and there usually works to oil the mental cogs, calm a troubled soul, or at least get the blood flowing a little less sluggishly – but usually all of these things and more besides.

In any case, Aristotle found it a useful exercise, and I’m happy to follow his ambling lead.

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