Tag Archive 'thought process'

Nov 26 2012

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Thinking with my Feet

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Some people sit down whenever they ponder any of the big questions. Others like to think with their feet. I belong to the latter group. When faced with a matter of life and death, or any other major philosophical problem, I take a long walk. That seems like the best way to start dealing with it.

Recreation is a form of escape to many. They go for a long walk, rigorous hike or good run to stop thinking altogether. Or they exercise their bodies to simply stay in shape, caring little for the mass of grey matter resting on top. But the mind recreates whenever the body does, and a refreshed mind thinks better than a stale one.

The thinkers I admire most – Emerson, Thoreau and Burroughs – were all big walkers. It is no mistake that they are considered nature writers as well. Nature teaches what indoor study cannot teach. While all three were avid readers, each recognized the importance of direct experience. Each learned as much from the elemental world as they did from books, if not more.

In the Information Age, it is easy to believe that anything we need to know can be found on the Internet. But the same mistake was made for centuries by those entering great libraries. Truth is, some things can only be learned viscerally. Some things can only be learned from wind, earth, trees, and water.

Yesterday I went for a walk on the nearby Rail Trail. I put on thermals before going out. The thin layer of ice covering pools of standing water along the trail convinced me that I’d done the right thing. The long shadows reminded me that dusk follows quickly on the heels of late afternoon this time of year. The sun was just above the trees when I finished my walk. A chilling wind numbed my cheeks. Half frozen earth crunched beneath my feet. By the time I got home, I was glad to be indoors again. But my head is full of fresh air now. I’ll think better today as a result.


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