“Desert, purity, fire, air, hot wind, space, sun, desert desert desert” writes Robyn Davidson in her book Tracks in response to the question involving her decision to venture on a 1700 mile solo journey across the Australian Outback. Her answer may not seem profound – unless you want to dig deeper into her intense desire to be one with nature – but anyone who has read the book knows that her walk led to a transformation that goes beyond the alluring pull of chromatic sunsets or majestic sand dunes. Her arrival at the Western end of the continent, right on Hamelin Pool, the gateway to the Indian Ocean, created a new Robyn who finally understood the true meaning of freedom.
Indeed, walking transforms.
It has led to grand discoveries, prolific solutions, aha moments, secret doors, timeless novels (and maybe weight-loss too…or an illustration of an ape evolving into a scoliotic human being. Both exhibit change if you think about it).
Walking is more than just a movement that combats idleness, the root of all evil. It means to step outside or go forward. And the best thing about it? It’s free. We don’t have to pump coins into our soles to create this metamorphic movement.
Walking is also the best way to travel.
In Sapa, 4 years ago, I walked for hours with a tribeswoman and learned about a culture.
And just a few weeks ago in Kingston, a historic city in Eastern Ontario, I learned about history, freedom, courage, patriotism, preservation and tolerance through endless hours of walking.
And to walk is to learn.
I walked with my hosts and my niece. Hours of crossing asphalts and the gossamer-filled streets gave way to meaningful chit-chats about family, happiness, teenage boys, food, culture, exercise, weather, immigrant-living, smelly feet and what not.
As we discovered roads, corners, and junctions, we discovered more about ourselves and how, in our next journey, we can become more receptive, humble, and compassionate.
We were all once naive to each other’s needs, but walking has allowed us to understand each other.
Walking opened the door for questions to be asked and answers to be given.
Walking allowed us to be ourselves.
Walking brought us closer than we have ever been.