A Walk Taken

When not having a purpose is the purpose

My father loved to walk. Walking was simple, functional, and the purest form of exercise. He walked in his wingtips to the train station, then across the Chicago loop daily for 37 years. He maintained a healthy weight because of the 3 miles he walked every day.

He would be delighted that his youngest daughter has been logging her own miles this summer in preparation for a hiking trip in the Canadian Rockies. On weekends Father liked nothing more than to take a walk in the woods, at the arboretum—wherever he was surrounded by the natural world.

I will be thinking of him as I scramble across boulders and stand before snow-capped peaks and glacier-fed lakes. He will be my reminder to walk for the pure enjoyment of it. I won’t be tracking number of miles or speed. I certainly won’t be breaking any records. My goal is not to have a goal. I’m eager to see a magnificent part of the world, meet new people, and appreciate being able to have this opportunity.

Walking has recently become the subject of several books that promote the activity as a goal-driven pursuit. Writers, one book documents, are invigorated by walking, which fuels their creativity. Another author argues that walking is a form of protest against our busyness, going so far as to suggest that walking is a way of imagining a more sustainable future.

Norwegian writer Erling Kagge believes that “walking is among the most radical things you can do.” He speaks from experience, having been the first person to cross North and South Poles and climb Mount Everest on foot. For him, walking is a protest against growing the GDP and then resting whenever we aren’t doing so.

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In my own preparations, I admit to wanting to have the right equipment, training a lot, and becoming the consumer I’d rather not be. At least I haven’t joined the “Order of Walkers” just to head out my door.

My great hope is to keep all things political and purposeful out of my week of hiking. I intend to walk every day, period. I will put one foot in front of the other and imagine Father at my side. More than anything, he and I would agree, walking is good for the soul.

8 thoughts on “A Walk Taken”

    1. Thanks! I’m trying to follow up on your interest in the baptism song used at the jazz service. Now that the churchwide assembly is over, I hope to get an answer. I’ll keep you posted!

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  1. awesome perspective; when my sister Rose Ann & I were in Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness in E central Idaho for 3 weeks recently we tended to be layabouts. So few whom we encountered up there were able to have our luxury of sitting, thinking, writing and whining about mosquitoes. They all seemed bent on finding the next lake, campsite or fishing hole. I found it a discovery in how hard it is for me to do nothing. Congratulations on taking this time for yourself. I know you will enjoy the scenery and find yourself continuing to get in shape as you commune with your dad’s spirit. Can’t wait to share stories on your (and my return) to Twin Cities.

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  2. Lenore-You are packing light by the looks of it. Always wise. I felt the same anxieties and excitement when preparing last summer for a hiking trip to Portugal.
    You have my admiration and respect for taking this on. I will be thinking of you!

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  3. Enjoy your hiking/walking trip Lenore.
    Yes I agree that walking is good for the soul. I certainly don’t do enough of it these days.
    Aged 64 years and retired for 9 years but with caring responsibilities after that gave me little time to walk apart from park walks or short walks with a friend.
    More recently I have considered rejoining ‘rambler’s association’ as they run good walks in the lovely countryside of Lancashire, England. If I do rejoin I will have to take other’s problems in my stride (occupational hazard from public health nursing days).
    Thanks for giving me the idea Lenore as I was chatting to an ex group member the other day 🙂

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