I Believe in Walking

Timothy - St. Paul, Minnesota
Entered on October 2, 2007

I measure the world in footsteps, I feel alive in the power of motion. I grew up in New York, where everyone move’s quickly, and found boundless energy in the endless, quick-sure weaving between thousands of moving people. Later, on the trails, I learned to cross many horizons in a days walk. Land became paradoxically more vast and comprehensible when you have walked a distance that can be seen on a globe. Land trains me – each time I backpack long-distance I am stronger, more alive with every quickening step, surer of the ability to slide endlessley over jagged rocks, and more aware with each year. The impossible becomes easy. 17 miles a day over the mountains seemed crazy in 2005, by 2006 the limit was 23, last summer it was 31.

When walking, work is the process of living. In the day to day rush of a million events and circumstances, and varying different situtaions to which I must adapt, the process of moving through a complex and ever changing landscape of ideas, people, activities is how I live. I keep walking – I’ve walked 16-hour days with only brief stops for granola-bar fuel or to cool in the wind of a ridge-top breeze. I want to keep walking – I’ve been told to fear burn-out or weariness, but the glory of feeling so much so fast in one endless continuum of space is itself my fire. I pass a million unique scenes – on the trail, talking, thinking, writing, leading, but there is only one place united by footsteps.

When walking, the property in my control is the barest of needs I can carry, yet I take ownership of the world. This is trail culture. My web of interdependency – the weather, the rocks and logs, and soft moss that make such good footsteps, the edible plants and the gifts of anonymous fellow travelers – is my most valuable property. As a college student and as a climate leader I find myself living that way beyond the trail. I have little opportunity to commodify a space as my own, nor do I want to – I live outside my dorm room. Private needs are a hassle, I seek to foster far more powerful commons on which I depend. This means libraries and public computers, and cafeteria meals which start conversations with random strangers. It also means the experience I share through teaching and mentoring, the social capital built by networking, and the culture of innovation and cooperation through which I help build a sustainable future. I love non-zero sum games and positive impacts that replace consumption with a personal relationship.

I believe in walking because the fuel is sunlight. I translate the power of light into motion with an effortlessness that is simultaneously intense work. Walking is the life fire that gets me somewhere, my participatory experience of the world that is itself intentional.

For me home is where the heart is, but that is anywhere my soul decides to traverse.