Walking and reflection go hand and hand, and I believe the art of reflection, of learning to incubate the material you’ve accumulated throughout the day or life, and turn it into something living, something containing an inspiring life of its own, is a lost one.
Much like the art of meditation, reflection requires self control, the ability to focus the will onto the present moment, like a beam of light concentrated onto a burning point. Walking facilitates this. Waking busies the body, but the mind remains awake and active, toward no end but itself. I think walking is essential to reflection. Kant and Thoreau and others would walk several times a day, and that is where they found their inspiration.
All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.
Above all do not lose your desire to walk. Everyday I walk myself into a state of well being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, and the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill … if one keeps on walking everything will be alright.
I can only meditate when I am walking. When I stop, I cease to think; my mind works only with my legs.
—Jean Jacques Rousseau, Confessions
Few people know how to take a walk. The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence and nothing too much.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every walk is a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us.
—Henry David Thoreau
I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks – who had the genius, so to speak, for sauntering: which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked for charity, under the pretense of going à la Sainte Terre,’ to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander.
—Henry David Thoreau, Walking
It is solved by walking.
—A Latin proverb