Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Philosophy of Walking by Frederic Gros

Why I read it: I walk, a lot, so when Amazon Vine revealed this book as an option for pre-release review, I jumped at it.

Summary: What is walking, beyond the physical?

My Thoughts: I've written two books on walking, and have walked a lot in preparation for writing other titles on nature. Along the way I've had the opportunity to think both about what I'm seeing and what I'm doing.

I'm a big proponent of immersing myself in nature, in opening all my senses and forgetting the rest of my life for the few precious moments I get alone. Sound callous? So what. Let's face it, we're more connected now than ever, which means we get less solitude than ever. The people important to me are with me on every step, of course, but they share space in my mind with the flowers, butterflies, birds and whatever else I can find.

A lot of times when I walk my mind wanders away from my legs. They can take me down a trail. I can still smell the wildflowers and hear the birdsong, but in my head I'm writing my next book, or wrestling with a burning question or two. Mind you, that burning question has nothing to do with work or family, but may be along the lines of "If red-bellied woodpeckers are moving north with global climate change, will they force out the flickers?"

So each walk I take is a journey unto itself. This, in a way, is what the author attempts to capture in A Philosophy of Walking. He considers Thoreau and his thoughts on walking. He points to Gandhi and his political use of protest walks. He follows Nietzsche on his wanderings. He expounds upon the basics, like gravity, distance, purpose. He shows that walking, though many consider it to be the simplest form of rudimentary transportation, can be so much more.

Needless to say, I'm a believer, as the Monkees once said (now there's a group of philosophers right there!).

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