Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Walking

“It is the best of humanity, I think, that goes out to walk. In happy hours all affairs may be wisely postponed for this. Dr. Johnson said, ‘Few men know how to take a walk,’ and it is pretty certain that Dr. Johnson was not one of those few. It is a fine art; there are degrees of proficiency, and we distinguish the professors from the apprentices. The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good-humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence, and nothing too much. Good observers have the manners of trees and animals, and if they add words, it is only when words are better than silence. But a vain talker profanes the river and the forest, and is nothing like so good company as a dog.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Country Life,” 1857



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5 comments:

G. Thomas Fitzpatrick said...

I don't usually care overmuch for Emerson. But that is a good bit. Have to squire that book.

James C. said...

I'm a Wordsworth man myself. He famously was estimated to have walked close to 200,000 miles over his active life, and most of his poetry was composed during these rambles in the countryside.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

I think it's something we've forgotten, possibly because of the internet, and its necessary emphasis on sitting to write. But in the past, writing of any kind was often associated automatically with walking.

Ingemar said...

I agree. When I was in school, the best essays I wrote were birthed when I spent two hours walking and assembling my arguments as I was doing so.

Mary Kay said...

I have to admit that my walks are not so frequent or so entertaining as when I lived in the West Coast US mountains. I found it very difficult to just "go for a walk" when I moved to the suburbs. I felt very conspicuous. Now, I am adjusted to civilisation, and enjoy my too-infrequent solitary wanders. I sense that they will increase in the not-too-distant future, when I will have a big river to explore f Rom my new home. Thank you for this post!