It takes few years to display this skill. Not all are fortunate enough to showcase it. Those who are fortunate, never realize the value of it. The first steps you take would be a sight to cherish to your parents. They brought you to this world, may be helped you learn it (though I believe us humans are born with this), but they take pride in your small feet of achievement. If we were to rephrase Armstrong, “One small step for a child, one great moment of pride for parents”. From then on it’s hard for you to stop walking. That walking becomes running in no time. But do we return to the wondrous activity of walking in our adult lives? Even if we do, do we do it deliberately?
The advent of technology along with drive to accumulate capital prevented us from realizing the pleasure of walking. Almost all the migrations in human history were accomplished by walking. People had a destiny and they reached their destiny through walking thousands of miles. But unfortunately for us, we don’t walk as much. Even if we were to migrate we can simply fly or take a ship and reach our destination.[Those people who flee from their countries take boat and if lucky enough reach their destination alive]. Either way walking doesn’t play a substantial role. I digressed a bit. The point is we walk less and less now (unlike our relatives in animal kingdom, who walk and run their whole lives) and we are missing out on one of the greatest pleasures.
The pleasure of walking is hard to describe. In fact to realize walking as a pleasure is a privilege. We need time to indulge in conscious walking. Not many of us are fortunate enough to indulge in it. You decide to go for a walk, you step out of your house and you spend a split second to decide the direction to walk. Then the magic starts. Your body is so accustomed to this mundane action that you don’t have to think about it. You move your feet as if you’re in an auto pilot mode. Your body and mind take care of the activity without you having to think about it. One step after the another, be it on a grass, or on beach sand or, on a pavement, you feel the nature in a way you could never feel if you are riding a vehicle. You see things you never did when you went by the same route in a vehicle that morning. You see strangers indulging in same activity and you think you’re somehow connected, even if you don’t acknowledge. If you’re lucky, the gentle breeze caressing you brings back memories or you form memories. All this happens, when your feet are doing their job like a clockwork. You let your body guide you. You don’t have any destination in mind (in a way you do – to come back to home), you are simply performing an act, which is not a means to any specific end, but an act, which is an end in itself.
You walk across a farm and see a stallion running, you pass a house where you hear a child crying, you go past the railway track and listen to the whistles of the train coming afar, you caress a tree branch, you pluck a flower and smell it. You indulge all your senses when you are walking deliberately. When you’re indulging in these activities, there will be thousands of thoughts running haywire in your mind. You choose not to pay attention. You rather focus your mind on the sight around you and the step in front of you. As you walk aimlessly (almost), you come across the beautiful sight of sun bidding good bye to you or sun announcing its home coming to you. You’re in the moment – a goal, which you strive hard to achieve in your quotidian life, but which you achieve without any effort when you’re walking.(even if it is only for a short period). All the fears of your existence are put in the back burner. You imagine yourself to be a philosopher/poet of yore. You are almost sure that you won’t produce anything that would stand test of time, yet you wish to think of yourself as someone who is going to produce great works just as your idols did, when they walked just as aimlessly as you’re doing.
To digress again a little, If given a choice, wouldn’t we all leave our mundane lives and simply “walk” away? Walking away has a nice sound to it even a honor attached to it, as opposed to running away. How exhilarating it would be (even if its for a while), to walk away from everything that we’ve known all our lives and move to an unknown place? We learnt in our school days the famous lines, “Two roads diverged in yellow woods, I took the one less traveled and that has made all difference”. But aren’t we all taking the Road most traveled? We cannot take the road less traveled in our day to day lives, at least during our walking we could take the less traveled road and see if it makes any difference.
You don’t realize how lucky you are to enjoy this pleasure. You take this activity for granted. But remember, in a flash, you would be waking up as an old age person struggling to take even few steps without drawing every ounce of energy in your body. So, next time when you step out of your home try taking a walk and walk deliberately. Who knows, you might find a new path that could change your life forever.