Delight Springs

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


The feeling of a good walk is of connected solitude, of self-possessed relatedness to the ground beneath one's feet and all those other dawn treaders (on two legs or four) we share it with. It's not at all a feeling of loneliness, or even aloneness, even on those rare days when it's too hot for canine or other companionship.

Good walks engender humane and empathetic fellow-feeling, they break through all isolating walls, material and notional. This goes for mundane neighborhood strolls no less than for extraordinary treks in remote and exotic locales. Emerson's exhilarated common-crossing is one kind of example. One of Admiral Byrd's 1934 Antarctic rambles (as related by Anthony Storr)  is another. "Took my daily walk at 4 p.m. today in 89° of frost... I paused to listen to the silence..."  

The reported experience of unity with nature is sometimes tinged with a mystical significance, or is interpreted as such. The Admiral seems here to list in that direction. Emerson always muddled the distinction between nature and ego, but nature for him was always inclusive of our greatest and most distinctive perceptions.

I don't usually feel the tug of mysticism, myself. But I do get that natural sense of the  "sheer beauty and miracle of being alive," and much more vividly when in a state of bipedal motion than when parked and seated. Cosmic emotion of this sort is an earth-centered wonder, even for those who would infer another source. This is still the only home we've ever known.

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