The first year I fell in love with long walks I was only an awkward, sincere teenager. I discovered sometime that summer a large stick I liked to walk with and it was replaced in the fall with a slender stick captured in the Boundary Waters by a friend who sympathized with my wanderings. My sisters teased and called them my “Moses Sticks” but I enjoyed my long rambles too much to mind them.
I grew up from then spending hours walking the gravel roads – roads that could not get me to any destination, but that took me out of myself, gave me the chance to breathe deeply and think quietly and wander widely. Even on a dreary day, I could walk a half mile to The Corner and it would suffice, somehow.
I often thought desperately that I’d love to live in town, so that my rambles could take me somewhere; and I do enjoy being able to walk to favorite destinations, but I was surprised to learn that I missed my solitary rambles through the empty countryside. I walk to destinations less and less lately, opting to wander through the prettiest streets and past the bloomiest yards. I crave the solitude, the emptiness that turned me to entertaining myself with my own thoughts. Those long walks supplied me with time to think and reflect, and create. I miss that most – the creativity that was born of quietness.
I don’t know why it has taken me nearly two years to catch up with my own needs. I am walking more now, trying to make space for reflection and inspiration. Urban life still feels crowded, as if anytime I stretch my arms out I will bump something that is not mine, or be noticed by somebody who does not understand. I must stretch though, must keep my elbow room somehow, must find the space to breathe. So I keep walking.