It is a rare day when I don’t spend some time outside wandering. As I have never learned to drive walking is my default mode of transport, yet it’s also one of my favourite pastimes. I especially love to walk with no destination in mind, to amble through woodland, on a mountain trail, or along a deserted beach.
I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.
Whatever the setting there are always things to see, yet the journey is as much internal as external. When I need to untangle my thoughts or process some gnarly emotions then the best remedy is a long walk. Somehow the making of many footsteps creates a rhythm that makes it easier to think clearly, freeing the mind to ponder. New creative ideas and solutions to problems all flow more freely when I go on my wanders.
Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of wellbeing and walk away from every illness. I have walked into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.
I think it is these mental and emotional benefits which I appreciate the most, rather than the physical health gains of regular exercise. More often than not I have no agenda or issue to resolve, no particular focus in mind as I set out. Yet, answers to questions I had not yet thought to ask often find their way through the tendrils of daydreams, wonderings and observations.
If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking.
My favourite places to wander are old forests and woodlands and so it delights me that my home backs into the woods. Populated with ancient trees, carpeted with moss and full of myriad birds and creatures, this timeless place calls me into its leafy embrace day after day. Even with the constant birdsong, there is a deep quiet that stills and sooths my mind.
A vigorous five mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.
Paul Dudley White
The animals, birds, fauna and flora that I encounter day by day are a large part of the pleasure I find in my walks. Even when walking through the streets of a town or city it is often nature that catches my eye, whether a tiny wild flower emerging from a crack in the pavement or a pigeon seeking a fallen crumb. I treasure these small encounters and it’s perhaps unsurprising then that my artwork is usually centred on the creatures and little wild wonders – the wordless companions of my daily walks.
Go outside. Don’t tell anyone and don’t bring your phone. Start walking and keep walking until you no longer know the road like the palm of your hand, because we walk the same roads day in and day out, to the bus and back home and we cease to see. We walk in our sleep and teach our muscles to work without thinking and I dare you to walk where you have not yet walked and I dare you to notice. Don’t try to get anything out of it, because you won’t. Don’t try to make use of it, because you can’t. And that’s the point. Just walk, see, sit down if you like. And be. Just be, whatever you are with whatever you have, and realise that that is enough to be happy.
There’s a whole world out there, right outside your window. You’d be a fool to miss it.
About the Artwork…
The artwork featured on this post is part of my current exhibition and is based on a little drawing I made a few months ago called “She ran free, wrapped in wildness”…