Walking…and Listening

photo by Andi Linden, copyright 2011

I love my music and audiobooks as much as any audiophile, and often an iPod and a long walk are the perfect coupling.
I also tend to have a puritanical meme running through my head to the effect that, if I’m going to take the time (out of work) to walk, I’d jolly well better have a destination. The Food Coop. Bloomsbury Books. The Post Office. The Library.
Then someone sent me this quote. It not only taught me the origin of the word “saunter,” it also reminded me that the Spiritual and the Beautiful can be as “useful”—lifegiving, even lifesaving—as the Utilitarian. More so.

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks,—who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under the pretense of going à la Sainte Terre,” to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander.”

They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere.

For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.

From Walking by Henry David Thoreau

We here in the mythical state of Jefferson are blessed to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. But wherever we live, the best way to appreciate it—and feed our souls in the process—is on foot.
To read Thoreau’s entire essay, click here.

Daniel Murphy

Daniel promotes integrative human flourishing, with a focus on men, through life coaching, mentoring, group work, and education.

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