I went out to meet some friends for drinks the other night and decided to walk to the bar instead of drive. When I got there and mentioned that I had a nice walk, one person looked at me like I said a stork had delivered me there.
"You walked here all the way from downtown?" she asked, as if she expected I might pass out at any minute from the strain of sauntering across the city. "Why didn't you drive? We could have picked you up if you needed a ride."
I'm always surprised when people suggest that walking is a weird thing to do. I sit at a desk all day because I earn money that way, and I sit on a barstool occasionally because I enjoy good company, but I consider both of those activities far stranger than walking.
Truth be told, walking to the bar is the highlight of the day. I could probably walk all day long, if I really set my mind to it, but it's not as easy as it sounds. Basically, it requires being homeless and broke.
So, I sell the better part of my day in order to walk the way I want to for a brief hour in the evening. Whether I'm deep in the woods or out on the busy city streets, as long as I don't have a purpose, I'm happy.
I enjoy walking in the woods the most, but the longer the walk becomes, the more necessary it is to bring food and water. Carrying enough rations to walk as far as I want to walk would spoil the walking.
That's the burden of balance we all face in our lives. If we didn't have to eat and drink, we could just walk forever. If there were never bad weather, we wouldn't need houses. If we didn't work so much, we wouldn't need to relieve ourselves by getting drunk and making love. We could just walk forever.
Few of us will ever be ready for a truly Thoreauvian walk. "If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again -- if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man, then you are ready for a walk."
Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. His e-mail address is paul [at] geekprom.com.