I read a book a while ago called “Wanderlust: a history of walking” by Rebecca Solnit. I was pretty eager to read this book, as it promised a history of walking right there on the cover. The history of walking I have gleaned up until now has mostly been about footraces and some sidewalks. This book, alas, had an entire chapter on philosophers and their role in walking aimlessly, a handful of writers in England and Paris, and the revelation that women could not walk safely outside after dark through much of recorded history. This was pretty thin gruel to my eye, accustomed to hunting for facts, events, and sweet sweet numbers as I have become.
It was about at the close of the book that I realized
Walking is like pooping
Both are unmentionable acts we seldom contemplate or document, but perform daily. Preferably for as short a time as possible, for many. There are vital and biological acts that barely ever get written about, though walking does have more film credits than pooping, to be sure.
To be fair, driving is like pooping, too. We’d rather be where we’re going, not stuck in our comfiest chair thinking about death. That’s why cars have radios, and why you can rarely get a driver or passenger to correctly estimate how much distance or time they have travelled. Our minds are on other things.
Much of transportation, except for the rare modes like a ferry ride, an airplane flight, or an autumn drive, is similarly neglected in our minds. It is hard to be mindful, present, and embracing my surroundings when they are changing constantly. I can be present when I get there. The hundreds of momentary crises in traffic or dozens while walking are each dealt with in their turn, and then forgotten. Can you tell me the colors of the cars that passed you on the road today?
Of course, cumulatively, the stress of driving does pile up. The more time we spend piloting cars against calamity for the sake of our urgent destinations, the shorter our lives are. Nothing can be done, as the only way to get to most of America is in traffic.
Apologies for the short and earthy post, I gotta go.