(I'm taking a class about walking and as our first assignment we were asked to write one page about our relationship with walking. Because I can struggle with being succinct mine was longer than a page, but I thought it read kind of like a blog entry so I decided to post it here.) From my earliest memories as a non-child, I’ve been interested in what happens when I am neither consuming or creating media. For myself and many people in contemporary culture, the overwhelming majority of waking time is spent in some degree of ‘conversation’ as in, some level of communication with other human beings. Generally this takes the passive, consumptive role, like watching Tv or listening to music or even seeing billboards. While I’ve never been a big Tv watcher I was passionate about both music and Npr as a teenager and it was rare when one of those wasn’t entering my brain. As a creative person I often took the active role as well, making objects, images or words. But even this was with the intention that it would be consumed by others. It seemed inescapable that I could do something that wasn’t somehow for or about other humans. Even entering a building is a sort of dialogue, since it was designed by humans with the intention of influencing other humans. Why I was fascinated with being able to escape this as a young person, I am not sure. I remember fantasizing about if I was the only person on earth, how I would spend my time and what that would say about me. Because I recognized that any interaction with other humans shapes us somehow, I was interested in discovering who I was as a person when not being shaped by other persons and how I could live authentically. Of course, one can meditate (an activity I’ve long found interesting) as a way to neither consume or create, but meditation is about clearing the mind. I wanted to do the opposite, I wanted to explore my mind and explore it’s depths, not to empty it. At the age of 12 my family moved from suburbia to a small, isolated town on the side of a mountain. It was initially a difficult transition and I missed being closer to the broader culture, but I grew to love taking long walks in the hills and mountains behind our house and it was in this setting I found what I was looking for. A way to be completely alone with myself. Of course the natural world had an impact on me, generally for the better, but that is different than being around things designed by other humans with the intent of influencing humans. For many people, the only time they experience any escape from the ‘conversation’ is in the shower, so it is no wonder it is often sited as the place where ideas are developed. In the shower people are both calm/relaxed and alone with their thoughts (although still influenced by the human design of their shower). For me, walking became the most ‘pure’ sort of activity I could engage in. It allowed me to explore my thoughts without feeling bored. I tend to be focused as a person, not one to let my attention drift off or stare into space, and am unable to simply sit in a spot and explore my thoughts because, despite my conscious wish otherwise, my body feels a desire for stimulation and walking provides just enough, while leaving most of brain available to journey inwards. For me, walks are mental explorations. Most of the time when I return from walking, my head is filled with new ideas, new connections and new plans that I scribble in notebooks, scraps of paper or in an email to myself. And because walking (or any exercise) stimulates the release of endorphins, it is generally positive thoughts and positive mental explorations. If I’m sad or upset, a walk usually helps me feel better, not only because I can think through the situation more clearly, but because the walk causes a physiological change via brain chemicals. In fact, outside of times I’ve used Ecstascy, Lsd or Shrooms, all my happiest memories are of being alone, walking. While I’m no longer that interested in the notion of what I would be like as a person disconnected from all other humans, (largely because I no longer believe in a soul and therefore no ‘real’ me, just my biology, which includes how it has been shaped by others) I still take great pleasure from the mental exploration that walking allows me.
I've started many entries, and have many notes in my notebook about things I'd like to write about, but for whatever reason it has been a struggle for me to either complete or begin entries here. But I estimate I have about 30 blog posts in queue that hopefully I get around to finishing/starting.
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