Why walk?

deborah_IMG_4630“Because I like to” is hardly an answer.  Although it’s true, it raises the next question – why do I like to walk?  There are many answers, going back to my childhood.

Walking was my first taste of freedom as a child.  I lived in a semi-urban, mixed use neighborhood in Philadelphia.  By just walking all the way around my block, there was much to see:  different types of houses, a church, a “mansion” (to my childish eyes) converted to a small apartment building.  When I was permitted to cross the first street alone, I was able to go to the corner grocery for penny candy, and to the newsstand for an ice cream.  Once I could cross two streets alone, I had access to the 2 square block playground and rec center.  Soon I was walking the whole neighborhood, resting many days at the local library branch, which became my second home for many years.

But even before my solo explorations, I walked with my mother.  We would sometimes take the streetcar to Pennypack Park.  We would stop at the corner deli to buy hoagies, sodas and Tastykakes for dessert, which would be our lunch.  [I know, not the healthiest.  The fat and sugar was offset by the walking!]  I loved getting out into nature.  And I loved these special outings with my mom.  It was so close to home, yet offered the chance to sit by streams, climb boulders, see birds and sometimes deer, and just enter a different, quieter, simpler world.  Walking in the woods always makes me feel at home, which in turn makes me feel loved.

Today I still enjoy the feeling of fixing on a far destination and the feeling of progress as that destination comes closer.  Destinations are usually for city explorations.  And when in nature, I love the quiet to contemplate, to think and sometimes just to “be.”

I love the feeling of power in being able to traverse an area using only my body.  It is an elemental feeling that ironically leads me to feeling at one with humanity, especially when I am walking alone.

And walking is something I will be able to do for many, many years.  It’s not “athletic”; it’s nothing out of the ordinary.  But it is incredibly natural.  And the act of walking doesn’t require much attention, leaving me free to think, to ponder questions both profound and simple.

And that is why I have a desire to walk the Camino!  I have some things I need to ponder.

In the beginning . . .

Like the peripatetic Socrates, I walk to think, as well as to simply be in the moment.  In about 7 weeks, I’ll get on a plane, destination France, to begin walking the Camino Frances.   I plan to walk a distance that equals walking from Orange Park, FL, where I  live, to New Orleans.  I plan to walk more than 500 miles.

Initial plans were made at the beginning of the year.  I’ve studied and learned, slowly acquiring the gear, the documents and the necessary reservations.    It was all so exciting.   And now that the time is getting closer, the element of terror rears its head from time to time — what was I thinking?

But I know that once I start walking,  I only need to put one foot in front of the other until I’ve crossed the Pyrenees and the border into Spain.   I  will do that over and over and over.  I will take my time, see the countryside, and eventually achieve my goal.

I am pleased you will be providing a bit of company along The Way.  Welcome!