Walking the Walk

Today’s bulletin should serve as a reminder that we don’t just talk the talk here at BWH, but we also walk the walk.

Trish was moved by my recent bulletin which established that there is no activity more essential to our health than walking — for it aids heart health, mental health and supports our ability to think.

She read with interest that the philosophical foundations of the modern age rest on the walking human being. She was astonished to remember the ancient philosophers in Greece taught their students while walking the countryside.

I told her that I had much more to say about walking. I told her I wanted to talk about walking and the creative process. I wanted to write about Beethoven’s afternoon walks and how the pilgrimage walk has to be mentioned if we are to accurately depict the whole human experience. She offered to do some field research. I agreed, she cleared her schedule, and we haven’t heard from her… until 2 days ago. She just sent us this picture from the top of the Inca Trail… in Peru:

Way to go, Trish! 

I am considering her for employee of the month, but as usual there is stiff competition. I am grateful for each and every one of our employees! Daily dedication to walking the walk is our mission, to live up to our promise of being in service to you.

Connection and Creativity

Being in proper relation to others requires having an open channel to an inner connection.

I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.

— John Muir

The inner relationship is an important component of the creative process. What makes us more of an intact human being than engaging in an expressive, creative act? And where do we find the source for our own creativity other than within? Thank God for the poets and the dedicated artists, and thank God for the realization that something as simple as deciding to take a back road less often travelled on your way home is actually a rebellious, creative act. And for that matter, so is creating time in your busy life to walk regularly despite how it clearly is not the necessity it once was. It won’t take long before it becomes ingrained!

If I could not walk far and fast, I think I should just explode and perish.” 

― Charles Dickens

Regular walking has been a much cherished aspect of the lives of some of the greatest creative minds in modern history.

Yes, Beethoven was a famous walker. He would take short breaks during his workday to clear his mind, and made it a ritual to take a longer walk each afternoon. He’d bring paper and a pen to be ready for when inspiration struck.

Mary Oliver the famous Pulitzer prize winning New England poet would walk at sunset every day and received so much inspiration doing so she mastered the art of writing while walking.

The creatives often get hooked on walking, just like the thinkers do.

There comes…. a longing never to travel again except on foot.” 

― Wendell Berry

The Pilgrimage

In history pilgrimages have been prescribed as penances by priests as well as handed down as judicial punishment by the courts. When they are self-imposed, pilgrimages often carry the theme of retribution or purification.

The story is similar whether it be believers of Islam trekking to Mecca or believers of Judaism journeying to Jerusalem and whether it be Catholics voyaging to Mercy Sunday here on Eden Hill in Stockbridge or trekkers on El Camino wayfaring to Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition holds that the remains of the apostle James are buried. It’s similar for the through-hikers on the Appalachian Trail in the East and the Pacific Crest Trail in the West. It’s the story of the power of walking to regulate and realign the human being, body, soul and spirit. It’s the story of freedom, adversity, and adventure.

Walking happens at a pace that lets our hearts fully participate in our environment. It lets our destiny find us. We can encounter the world in a way where the scents and sights and sounds can order themselves so as to present to us what we otherwise would miss if we buzz by in a train, a car or even a bike.

Caminar es atesorar: To walk is to gather treasure.”

― Spanish Proverb

As we stand in the time of year where one can walk all day, it’s the right time to commit to deepening our outdoor, non-concretized hill-walking program. Because after all, what is more creative, enlivening and rejuvenating than a regular, brisk walk in the woods?

What about Dancing?

We continue to make a colossal case for walking, but as a conclusion I would like to include a reader’s reaction to the first bulletin on walking where he offers an important public service announcement regarding another activity that serves us well:

In addition to walking, I would encourage dancing.  Dance has been part of our DNA since the dawning of homo erectus. Fertility dances, rain dances, harvest dances, May Pole dances, etc.  I played in a rock band in the 60’s to packed night clubs with people dancing “cheek to cheek” (if you catch my entendre). Even before Covid most people I know stopped dancing.  Dancing and the soul are inexorably connected.  I highly recommend dancing at home, in groups or even in the streets;  often!

Oh, yes! Dancing! Thanks, Bob D. It’s a great point. We should all commit to dancing to the song of our choice in our living rooms tonight. Are you in? Think about it on your morning walk!