Anytime I have something to work through – an essay, a teaching dilemma, a relationship pain – I start walking. Something about the pattern of one foot after the other paces my mind and heart in a rhythm that opens me up to what I need to see.

When I walk, I have the same sensation I do as when I really fall into a piece of writing. The world around me shifts into haze, and I am focused entirely on what I am working on. I keep moving forward; I keep thinking and praying; I keep listening, and everything else just becomes background. (Sometimes this happens when I’m driving, but given that I’m plowing 200 pounds of steel down the road, this haziness probably isn’t such a good thing.)

Many, many writers – Iain Sinclair, Doris Lessing, Annie Dillard, Madeline L’Engle, and Rebecca Solnit – all recommend walking as a way of gaining clarity on the writing we are undertaking. Others talk about walking as their way to clarity – Bill Bryson, Peter Jenkins, and Thomas Merton.

I find great peace when I walk. I get glimpses of clarity as my stride moves me forward and then back again across the same ground. I walk myself into comfort and insight. It doesn’t always last, but then, when I need it, I can go out and walk again. The simplicity and grace of little things.

Rodin's Walking Man – Rodin’s “Walking Man”