What's my hurry? Not every walk has to point toward a destination. A walk can also be, to use a Hebrew religious term, lishmah––which means, 'undertaken for its own sake.'
Problem is, most of the time my stride is, if not long, then deliberate, purposeful. I'm walking to get somewhere. In that circumstance, walking at a more leisurely pace can seem like a pointless indulgence, a distraction.
My accustomed walking style--fast forward--also reflects my excitement, thinking about the adventure ahead. And it almost always really is an adventure. I picture myself set in a stance like Mercury's, propelled forward, the very definition of 'fleet.'
At the same time, it's been impossible not to conclude that walking is more than dashing from place to place. And certainly more than could be explained by a term like 'endorphin rush.' But what, exactly?
In her 2000 book, Wanderlust: A History of Walking, San Francisco-based writer Rebecca Solnit provides an answer, or many answers. She examines a human activity that, throughout recorded history and probably before, has been understood as routine and commonplace, yet deeply mysterious and compelling.
One of Solnit's observations that I found particularly helpful led me to this: The walker occupies one of the most private public spaces there is. S/he is of the world and in the world, yet the walker's relationship to that world changes continuously. The walker is here one moment and gone the next; s/he is always present and always detached.