A Commonplace

What is a commonplace?



Some Thoughts About Walking

I did a lot of walking in 2016. Over ninety miles in July - probably more than that in August and September and nearly one hundred and fifty in October.

I like walking. It's free (just about, it costs a bit in shoe leather and sore feet). And it doesn't require any special equipment. It's not jogging, it's not tough-mudding, it's not triathling (verb non-transitive, to blow mucous out of every orifice).

If I were doing any of that "proper" exercise, I would be thinking about the exercise, or rather thinking about the blissful moment when I was no longer doing that exercise.

I know there are specific ways of doing walking meditation. But that's not what I do. I just walk. Here's the thing. When I think about things, when I think about almost anything, in my head I associate it with a place. And the place that I associate it with is normally a place that I've seen as I'm walking. And so walking in different places seems to help with thinking, somehow by giving me extra places to attach thoughts to. Does that make sense? Probably not, I'm trying to talk about thoughts, trying to talk about what goes on inside my own head, there's a good chance that it won't make sense.

Something else that I've found is that something magical seems to happen at about 6 miles. At my speed of walking, that's about 2 hours of walking. It doesn't seem to be necessary for the walking to be continuous, as long as it all happens in the same day. But at around 6 miles it's like a big switch flips in my head and finally I relax. Before that all the garbage that's been going on (especially in 2016) is annoying me, I'm preparing speeches that will set people right on various points, I'm thinking of snarky things I could say on facebook. But around 6 miles, suddenly that stops and? And I don't know what. I kind of stop thinking verbally, in sentences.

And that seems to be good for problem solving. Talking of which, something else has happened as a result of walking. I've taken up cryptic crossword solving. It started because I would find myself, tired and sweaty on a fairly empty tube train having walked from Uxbridge to Ickenham. The battery on my phone would be flat because I'd used my phone to track my journey. And so I would neither have access to kindle for reading, or music to listen to (such is the modern world). And so I would pick up the newspaper. But I couldn't bear to read the news in it, and so I ended up doing the cryptic crossword, and now I'm simultaneously addicted, elated, frustrated and humiliated by them on a daily basis.