Born to Walk

//Born to Walk

Born to Walk

Humans were born to walk. We’ve been doing it for millennia; there’s a trail of skulls marking various human species’ exodus from Africa. 

(Did you know, depending on your source, there were anywhere between eight and 21 other human species? Most were so vastly different from us, it’s like aliens have already visited. I’m currently watching Unknown: Cave of Bones on Netflix, which deals with homo naledi, estimated to have existed some 250,000 years ago.)

I’ve been fascinated about our migration since randomly asking my husband B the other day, while walking, “Why did we lose all our hair? So that now we have to wear all these clothes, which makes us so separate from nature? I mean, we are just animals after all.”

“Because we left Africa all those years ago,” he pointed out.

Then I listened to an Emergence Magazine podcast interview of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Paul Salopek. Calling his walk Out of Eden, Salopek is years into retracing, on foot, that migration pathway of our ancient ancestors.

Have you noticed how our modern conveniences – computers, smartphones, vehicles, etc – rev us up, make us feel like we’re moving at warp speed? We walk at an average of 3 mi/hr, just under 5 km/hr. What better way is there to slow things down, commune with nature than by slipping on a pair of sneakers and stepping outside?

Salopek calls it “sacramental time”, where “the boundaries between the physical and metaphysical begin to blur into an expansive experience of timelessness”.

Of course we’re all not prize-winning journalists with a gift for observation and writing – and enough time and money – to spend years wandering the globe. But as you ponder your New Year resolutions, if a daily walk is not on the list, why not add it right now? The benefits are tremendous.

*increased heart and lung fitness
*reduced risk of heart disease/stroke
*improved management of blood pressure, cholesterol, joint/muscular pain and/or stiffness, diabetes
*stronger bones
*improved balance, muscle strength, endurance
*reduction of body fat

And if you walk with a friend or relative? You’re adding the social piece we all need to keep our lives full and happy.

You could walk in a mall, I suppose, if the weather is inclement. But if you walk outside you’re bathing yourself in the great outdoors. Mother Nature. Wherewecomefrom. Wherewegobackto. Reconnecting to nature isn’t such a bad idea, huh, as we stress about climate change?

B and I have started a habit of walking after dinner. The length of walk varies depending on how active we’ve been throughout the day, but we find it aids in digestion. The “evening constitutional” is what I think the couple in Disney’s 101 Dalmations called it. It also sets us up for a good night’s sleep.

I’ve never done this before, but this year I bought an annual provincial park pass so that we can check out the various trails in Ontario, take in some new scenery.

There is a meditative quality to walking, which is good for the soul, yes? Salopek says that he’s had times when he’s been in such a trance-like state, it feels as though it’s not his feet moving, but rather the Earth turning under them. And walking in rural spaces, as I’m sure you’ve experienced, is different than large cities. Salopek has felt ghost-like when making the transition, feeling invisible, with people moving so fast, buildings so vast. Could he walk right through them?

He’s been walking so long, seen so much, talked to so many people, spent so much time outside, that he says you begin to accept the impermanence of both the natural and the manmade. Pondering thousands of years of various human migrations will do that too. Mountains rise up, exist, crumble. Cities too. Layer upon layer of life. And death. Our abundant Earth is always ready to give … and receive.

The thing that I love about walking is that, while you can get all technical and go out and buy new equipment to do it, most of us have what we need kicking around the house. A decent pair of shoes or boots, comfy clothes. Oh, and the other thing I love about walking? It’s not running! LOL.


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