Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Lost Art of Walking (copy)

I walk. I like to walk. I walk to clear my mind. I walk for exercise. I walk to think through problems. I walk to socialize. I walk to commune with nature. I walk to find money. I walk to pick up cans. I walk in the morning. I walk in the evening. I walk to escape. I walk therefore I am.

One day last summer, I was south of town walking towards home when I saw a white ball bobbling an inch off the ground around 20 feet in front of my path. It looked like a ping pong ball suspended in the air. As I got closer, I could see it was a spider, about the size of my fingernail, carrying her sac of unborn across the road.

The sheer beauty of the spider’s deed enthralled me. Had I not been out walking, I would have missed this spectacular feat. Had I been in a car, well.

Last week when I stumbled upon Geoff Nicholson’s new book The Lost Art of Walking, I smiled. Really, choosing to read a book about walking is no stretch, but I worried. Would it be entertaining?

Oddly enough, he begins his treatise on walking with the story of a fall. His fall in the California hills outside his home while photographing the surrounding scenery. One misstep and Nicholson saw the ground fast approaching. Was it a rock? Perhaps a root that tripped him. We will never know, but the fall left him with a broken arm that slowed his typing ability.

As readers, we benefit from his fall. The book is entertaining on so many levels. The subtitle, The History, Science, Philosophy, and Literature of Pedestrianism, hints to a comprehensive exploration of man’s unique gait.

In the first chapter alone the discussion turns from Nicholson’s personal fall to man’s first erect step as Homo sapiens. Then the brief dialogue evolves into baby’s first steps in the womb when you thought he was kicking. Next the conversation flows into the origins for all the different forms of the word walk. Did you know our English language has over 30 examples of the word such as hoof, pace, step, tread, plod, slog, lumber, hike, etc?

One might think this book unstructured, but they would be wrong. This is a well organized, fun romp into our basic need to get from point A to B. Be sure to amble through this read.