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The Divine Gift of Walking, Walking as a Way of Thinking, & Becoming Unbreakable (Reading Notes 6.11.18)

Resource: The Spirit of Sauntering: Thoreau on the Art of Walking and the Perils of a Sedentary Lifestyle


The compulsion to take walks is a form of genius that only a rare few possess.

Taking a walk isn’t about productivity or getting somewhere. It’s about playfully connecting with what is natural in oneself.

The desire and power to become a walker is a gift from God.

Our legs were not made for sitting. They were made for walking.

The best walks are the ones that are not aimed at getting anywhere in particular.


“I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks — who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre, to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.”

“No wealth can buy the requisite leisure, freedom, and independence which are the capital in this profession… It requires a direct dispensation from Heaven to become a walker.”

“When sometimes I am reminded that the mechanics and shopkeepers stay in their shops not only all the forenoon, but all the afternoon too, sitting with crossed legs, so many of them — as if the legs were made to sit upon, and not to stand or walk upon — I think that they deserve some credit for not having all committed suicide long ago.”

“The walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise, as it is called, as the sick take medicine at stated hours — as the Swinging of dumb-bells or chairs; but is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day. If you would get exercise, go in search of the springs of life. Think of a man’s swinging dumbbells for his health, when those springs are bubbling up in far-off pastures unsought by him!”

“When we walk, we naturally go to the fields and woods: what would become of us, if we walked only in a garden or a mall?”

“Life consists with wildness. The most alive is the wildest. […] All good things are wild and free.”

“I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit. In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to Society. But it sometimes happens that I cannot easily shake off the village. The thought of some work will run in my head and I am not where my body is — I am out of my senses. In my walks I would fain return to my senses. What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?”

Resource: Maira Kalman on Walking as a Creative Device and the Difference Between Thinking and Feeling


Walking sets the body in motion in a way that leads to the emergence of creative ideas.

Walking is a form of meditation.

Many great thinkers and innovators throughout history have seen walking as a kind of “life hack” that improved their overall quality of life.

When you take a walk in a city — or any place for that matter — you get to know the place in a unique way. To take a walk somewhere is to build a relationship to the energy or character of that space.


“I walk everywhere in the city. Any city. You see everything you need to see for a lifetime. Every emotion. Every condition. Every fashion. Every glory.”

“It is possible that the rhythmical movement of a carriage or train, of a horse and to a much lesser degree of walking, may produce on sensitive minds a slightly hypnotic effect conducive to that state of mind most favourable to the birth of ideas.”

Resource: Stretching


The more you stretch, the more you can stretch. Being stretched leads to flexibility.

When things break, that’s because their not stretchable.

To become unbreakable, you have to avoid being unstrechable.

Practice stepping out of your comfort zones. Practice going a little bit further than what you’re accustomed to.


“Stretching is growth. Extending our reach. Becoming more resilient, limber and powerful. Stretching hurts a bit, and maybe leaves us just a little bit sore.”

“But then, tomorrow, we can stretch further than we could yesterday. Because stretching compounds.”

“If you’re afraid of breaking, the answer isn’t to stay still. No, if you’re afraid of breaking, the answer is to dedicate yourself to stretching.”

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