Saturday, July 31, 2010

Stuff-I-Like: #2 Walking

If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.
--Raymond Inmon
Walking is good for solving problems - it's like the feet are little psychiatrists.
--Terri Guillemets

I think I've always liked walking, and my interest in this activity has grown rapidly since I took it up nearly two decades ago. On the contrary, the rest of mankind, after 1.5 million years of rambling along, has very recently (since just a millennium or two) nearly given up strolling on horses, bullock carts, cycles, cars, trains and aeroplanes. But then, striding along is more than just a form of biped locomotion or an exercise (that is, if you count reduction of cancer, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, depression, obesity, high BP and LDL (bad) cholestrol; and increase in life expectancy, bone health, and HDL (good) cholesterol; as health benefits, minus any chances of pulling a muscle or spraining your back).

There are the environmental, economic and social concerns of course, with "walkability" now considered a significant parameter to measure liveability in urban design. More the footsteps, lesser the carbon footprint - building sustainable cities IS a walk in the park!

But walking is about more than these mundane considerations. Just peep into the details of evolutionary and philosophical progression of man, and we see that gait has been vital to our cerebral growth, with millennia of human development firmly based upon this connection in walking and thinking. Just imagine, a street in Greece, and an old, grey, wise-looking, bare-footed man in his sixties striding along with a young man in mature manhood, handsome, well-shod and dressed with gold, discussing ethics, politics, morality and other ideas. The logical flow of thought smoothly permeates into words with each step, and the plinth of western philosophy is laid on the walks of Athens.

The elder one is Plato, walking with his favorite disciple Aristotle, who created the Peripatetic school of philosophy modeled on the walks he took with his students in the natural environs of his academy. Plato himself considered his learning a product of his walks with Socrates.

Closer home, we see hiking as the mainstay of spiritual enlightenment, with devotees from all walks of life trekking along pilgrimages to meet their favourite imaginary friends. Mahatma Gandhi really walked the talk on civil disobedience, bringing about a socio-political revolution rambling his way to Dandi.

Be it a balader sur les Champs-Élysées, a stroll around downtown Toronto, or even circumambulations of our humble "2.2" at the institute, one just needs to recall a few steps to rush in a flood of memories of times well spent. Oh, and how many of you noticed the banner on this blog?

Keep Walking!


A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.
--Paul Dudley White


varun said...

just one question: was this all a propaganda for the pedometer add displayed on your blog page??

other wise, nice work...

Somnath Meher said...

...encompasses pretty much all of it.
Of and from the "lone walker". Its time you (we) look for some company my friend. :)

Pratyush said...

Good stuff Shrey.

Pratyush said...

Well written Shreya.