Lots of walking this week.
As deliberate leisure activities go, a stroll is up there with pruning bonsai trees, blowing smoke rings, and of course the all-time Number One.
I am lucky to have a life with so much walking in it. The alternative would be unbearable. Consider the tedious effort of car ownership: trying to decide whether you should be more worried by the “rattly noise” or the “clanky noise” and rubbing the damn thing with Turtle Wax on Sunday mornings when you could be watching Spongebob on the telly or playing mouth trumpet in a bubble bath.
As a perpetual pedestrian, you’ll never catch me in a place called “Jiffy Lube” or haggling with a man in a blue boilersuit over something called a “flange compactor.”
Admittedly, you might find me in a place with a name like Jiffy Lube and buying something with a name like flange compactor, but that’s my own business.
Naturally, my insistence on walking (combined with my refusal to wear a watch or carry a telephone) infuriates my friends because I’m always late for everything. For years, I thought the opening scene of Titanic was the bit where DiCaprio drowns and makes a face like a poorly frog. I must have been late to the cinema.
Walking is a way of getting exercise without it being a big event. I need never suffer the spandex indignity of the gym. On my regular Friday walk, I happen to pass a gym window through which I see people on treadmills, sweating profusely but going nowhere. I feel like a wild sparrow seeing a canary in a cage, swinging on his trapeze like a little yellow doofus.
Walking is a guilt reducer. Because of the frequent exercise, I feel less guilty when I eat a massive cake, which is often. And because of the carbon emissions I’m not farting out of a car, I can feel less guilty about flying to Honolulu for the third time in a given winter.
When walking, you see things you wouldn’t see from a car. You see the masonry and statues at the tops of buildings, which leaves you with questions like “Why is there a statue of Aristotle in Wolverhampton?”.
You see clouds forming and reforming in the sky. You see women in lululemon yoga pants of questionable opacity picking up their dogs’ poos, and suddenly your problems don’t look so bad.
More than anything, walking keeps you sane. It finds for you a few moments of solitude, in which you can mull things over and solve your problems by barely thinking about them. Solvitur Ambulando is Latin for “it is solved by walking.” Probably.
There’s always a story to tell after a walk. In Montreal, I once saw a hawk plummet from the sky, seize a smaller bird in its talons and fly off again into the night. Nobody saw it but me.
If that doesn’t do anything for you, I once saw Scroobius Pip eating a Twix.
Walking is quite literally the way forward. All you need are shoes. And feet. And clothes. Maybe a mustache. But that’s optional.