Walking and the simple act of doing so for getting from one place to another. In other words, the simple act of walking. For millenia, we have been putting one foot in front of the other to go forwards. So what happened?
The simple act of getting in the car
Having walked my reverse commute for the last few years, I would hazard the guess that modern technology and the ease of which is it available is part of the problem. When I first moved to the east of Manchester, there were very few cars. Now, I barely see the pavements – or my neighbours – for the shield of the metal boxes they zoom around in. Even going as close as the local school (which I pass three minutes after leaving my road on foot)
That being said, it isn’t all about cars. I’m not here to blame cars in any way. I have a car and I use it to transport me further afield for a long hike or adventure. But I don’t use it on a daily basis when I can employ the wonder that is my human body and its fine ability to balance and move forward in a successive motion. I think it is a pretty cool piece of kit. (which costs quite little in the grand scheme of things)
Returning to the simple act
What I think of as the simple act of walking seems to be a long way from that of the people I know who instantly leap into their cars. OK, so I might be preaching to the converted by posting this here, but I hope that it will make us all think when we are chatting to friends and offering that little bit of insight into why we love wearing out our shoes in the rain rather than sitting in a chugging box between other similar chugging boxes.
I think some people see walking as a sport. A kind of competition, which is very off-putting and in my humble opinion, far from the truth. The activity is transport. Our primary (and very forgotten) piece of transport to get us to places near and far. Our ancestors walked a lot – even in their floaty bustled dresses. (they hiked in those bad boys!)
In the words of Frederick Gros in “A Philosophy of Walking”
“Sport is a matter of techniques and rules, scores and competition, necessitating lengthy training: knowing the postures, learning the right movements. Then a long time later, come improvisations and talent.”
Yes, our parents go through the big part of training us, but after that, at a tender young age, we are off! Transporting ourselves to (almost) wherever our heart desires. It is simple, easy and makes ‘checking stuff out’ that bit more accessible.
Putting in the effort
I say putting in the effort to take part in the simple act of walking, but the starting point is actually the same as that for getting in the car. So there isn’t that much effort at all. In fact, it removes the action of having to get an extra set of keys and the faff of getting into the car and driving.
Put on some clothes, suitable shoes and a coat which will keep you comfortable in the current weather conditions, then go outside. Instead of getting in the car, use that spectacular ability your parents encouraged from you and put it to good practice. Place one foot in front of the other and repeat. And repeat. And repeat!
Instantaneously, you will find that you are going forwards. You are off straight off the bat (If you excuse the sporting pun) and on your way to your adventure or destination. Far quicker than revving up the car and manoeuvering the iron horse out from your inevitably busy streets.
The Simple Act of Walking
It seems to me that we have been persuaded that our time is a premium and that we need to get everywhere yesterday. (this also affects bus use, but that is a whole blog in itself – which won’t make this, that’s for sure!)
I read at the Play Well exhibition at the Wellcome that a lot of adults won’t let their children walk to school alone or play outside due to their own personal fears of safety. Instead opting for driving them here and there in possibly one of the most lethal pieces of equipment our country has in the public sphere.
The problem here, as I see it, is that the less often we do something, the more scary it becomes. We find the time to read up about the bad things which happen and then build upon our knowledge of reasons not to do it. This is true of walking and how often we can see all the bad news.
The simplest way to get back to the simple act of walking is to “Just Do it”, as Nike says. It really is the easiest and more efficient way to get around. Yes, there is a little bit of planning involved to make sure you can get somewhere in time, but I am positive that we can all make more on foot journeys this year. And the next and the one after that.
The Simple Act of Walking
After my sojourn around walking and cars, let me bring you back to the simple act of walking. Remind yourself about seeing children take their first steps. The joy on their faces, and that of their parents too. How amazing it is to see the human body move in a way which creates a free piece of transport enabling us to not only get from place to place, but to keep up fitness, wellbeing and maintain community cohesion (through actually seeing your neighbours face-to-face rather than fleetingly through a car window)
The simple act of walking is actually the catalyst for so many things and, yet, is one of the first things we learn as children. Even before we can communicate properly, we can move.
So next time you reach for your car keys, remember the power behind the simple act of walking and consider stepping out on foot instead. Use your mastered skill of walking. Put one foot in front of the other and see for yourself the benefit the simple act of walking has on the rest of your life.
Are you a fan of the simple act of walking?
Are you guilty of nipping out in the car rather than on foot?
Whichever you are, there is always the opportunity for getting out for a walk.