“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day, I walk myself into a state of well-being & walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.” - Kierkegaard
Walking may be one of the most essential self-care activities one can take part in, and I don’t mean the physical advantage of getting some exercise or reaching your step goal. Walking, similar to journaling, cleaning, or any other routine activity, offers the mind a time to quiet down and observe the world around us. Not only that, walking can open our minds to new perspectives or even give space for our brain to process and rest with some idea we are currently wrestling with.
Last summer, in the midst of my LSAT studying sessions, I remember incorporating walks into my Pomodoro timer breaks. During the five-minute breaks, I would walk outside of my bedroom, walk across my apartment into the living room, and pace back and forth while looking out the window. This was no major, therapeutic trek, but it got my blood flowing, made my mind think differently, and offered my soul a beautiful view of trees blowing in the hot summer winds. Yet, during my 30-minute breaks, I spent time on my phone catching up on the latest notifications or eating lunch within the confines of my workspace.
Only on days when I walked to and from the library to study did I feel the immense power of walking. I recall walking home after a four- to six-hour study session, and replaying a certain logic game in my head. The problem boggled me to no end while staring at it from my desk, but once I stepped outside and sparked some movement in my body, I relaxed, imagined the problem, and answered some of the mental roadblocks for myself without the need to even look at the problem on paper. By simply hitting restart on my brain with a walk, I was able to process complex information and make sense of it when pounding my head into the wall wasn’t cutting it.
And this calls me back to Kierkegaard. In “Stillness is the Way” by Ryan Holiday, Holiday tells the story of Kierkegaard as he returned home from his daily afternoon walk one day. Kierkegaard walked and walked until he reached a place of mental stillness and peace, but as soon as he returned to his village he was bombarded with negativity and worry from an old man. Once the conversation was concluded and Kierkegaard was sufficiently anxious once again, he knew the only cure to his disease: turn around and start walking again.
So whether your side hustle is feeling stagnant, you’ve run up against a difficult situation in your social life, or work is just flat out undesirable, take some time to recenter yourself with a walk. Much like the Confucian thinker Mengzi, I believe humans are innately good. It is when the distractions and unnecessary struggles of human interaction seep into our souls that we become bored, ill, and evil. By utilizing the power of walking to isolate ourselves, we listen to our souls, dust off the vices of society, and see the light within us. We feel restored and ready to tackle the next challenge.
And trust me, as a distance runner I hated walking for a long time. I never had the patience to walk somewhere I could easily run or bike to, and watching life pass me slowly felt mind-numbing. Yet, I have learned that life is all about the journey. How you reach your destination is far more beautiful than where you arrive. Thus, we must all begin walking down the path of life, one step at a time.
Have an awesome week!
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“The unchecked pursuit for more only results in bankruptcy” - Ryan Holiday