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The Pleasure of Walking

In 2006, I quit the vast majority of intoxicants. I don't drink, I don't use recreational drugs, I don't smoke tobacco, I don't drink soda, and I am working on quitting all sweets entirely, and largely succeeding. I am not one for fine dining, and not frequently one for other forms of hedonism.

I usually do not advertise this - I might write about it for people who wish to know what I do, but I do not bring it up in conversation unless it comes up. But occasionally it does come up, and a common reaction is someone saying, half-joking, "Then why bother living?"

I think I understand. Many people do jobs they dislike for causes they feel nothing about. This must wreak havoc on a man's spirit. Most people spend more of their waking time on their work than any other thing - I can only imagine what spending the bulk of my time on something I disliked would feel like. Or worse, not even something I disliked - but something I felt very neutral about.

If a man's occupation becomes a slow crushing of his spirit, then of course he would need high energy, and high impact to free him from it. He needs to fit all of his leisure into his remaining waking time - from 6PM at night to 10PM when he is home from work, on the two days of his weekend, and his vacation time each year. Of course, not even that time is all his own - he still has to commute, run errands, do admin, do necessary little things. The reality of the situation is far worse - most people don't live bad lives, they just move slowly and quietly through things they don't particularly care for.

Of course, if a man only had 5% of his waking time to himself, he would want to maximize this time in the easiest, most surefire way of producing pleasure and relaxation. Who could blame this man? I don't. If I was suffering through a soul-killing occupation and had very little time, I would want to make sure that the time I did have was very enjoyable.


On Meditations

Walking has been a big part of simplifying my life. I don’t think there is anything simpler than grabbing a pair of shoes, or going barefoot, and walking to where you are going. At first I found the experience of walking to be incredibly painful. My legs tightened up and hurt for days at a time afterwards I realized this was because I didn't have any leg muscles, and my walking had forced me to start building them up again. I also find walking relaxing and meditative. I'm a thinker, and love to spend my time pondering different ideas or concepts, and figuring out how I could use those ideas in the real world. Walking allows me to do this without any real distractions. I get to have my body moving which helps to disperse built up energy, and I don’t have to worry about the things related to driving.

There are numerous people in history who have spoken about walking and all the benefits it provides. Henry David Thoreau would make himself some breakfast, then choose a direction and walk for hours. He would explore the wilderness around his cabin. Thomas Jefferson said that the morning is for learning different ideas, and the afternoons are for long walks. He felt that it was a good habit of able bodied men, and that with time, you could greatly increase the length of your walks. These walks seemed to help clarify the thoughts of these great thinkers, and enable them to better put those thoughts into words.

The next benefit of walking is the muscles and posture that it helps to develop. The habit of sitting all day has been disastrous to our health. For me personally, it had caused a utter lack of back muscles. So when I overexerted my back, I pulled a bunch of weak muscles in my back, causing long term damage. I believe walking, and standing, help to build all the muscles in your body because you don’t have anything to support yourself or lean on. I think other things should be done to build muscles as well, but walking certainly doesn't hurt.

I love how simple walking is for me. I no longer own a car, and it has been quite a while since I owned a bicycle. I find it such a relief not to have to worry about looking after these items. I no longer have to pay for insurance, gas, repair bills, parking passes, or have the general responsibility of car ownership. Even not having a bicycle is nice. I don’t have to worry about people stealing my bike, or figuring out how to fix it when it gets broken, or getting run over when I'm biking on the road. It is extremely liberating to just walk, not having a care in the world.

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