Reflecting Allowed

Walking: Why Drive When You Can Walk?

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 51 seconds

“No need to drive if you want your place on earth to be a world you can encompass walking.” (bell hooks, Belonging)

two girls walking away in grass, holding hands
Photo of two girls walking from cherylholt on Pixabay:

I was reading bell hooks today and this sentence resonated with me on so many levels. I have a vague memory of Sherri Spelic asking people to talk about walking last year at some point. I also have a very clear recurring memory, when I ask people what helps their wellbeing these days… for many people it is walking, especially in nature. I know walking is one of my favorite things to do in the world. It seems like such a mundane thing, right? I mean, we walk all the time unless we have a temporary or permanent disability or illness preventing it, right? But walking is so… rejuvenating, energizing, relaxing, soothing, when you do it for a sustained amount of time, when you intentionally spend your walking time enjoying it, enjoying the movement and your surroundings, or your thoughts, or your walking partner, or your music or podcast or audiobook. I remember whenever I travel to another country, the first thing I want to do when I check in is go out and walk around, explore my surroundings. This other quote from hooks resonated as well:

“I need to live where I can walk. I need to be able to walk to work, to the store, to a place where I can sit and drink tea and fellowship. Walking, I will establish my presence, as one who is claiming the earth, creating a sense of belonging, a culture of place.” (bell hooks, Belonging)

When I lived in Houston, TX, by all means NOT a pedestrian-friendly city, I found my way to walk to the nearest library (and found the shortcut that would enable me to get there faster without getting into dangerous traffic), how to walk to the nearest supermarket and strip mall, and the second nearest bigger strip mall, and the shopping center. Of course I rode lots of public transport til I got my driver’s license and we got a car. But I still Walker whenever I could. Why drive when you can walk?

Back to that original quote, though. I want to use it as a metaphor for education as well. I didn’t even finish reading the foreword to bell hooks’ book, so I don’t know if she makes the connection to education. Maybe she does. My connection to education is that sometimes you want to use the simplest technologies or tools, the most manual methods, to reach your goals. And why would you drive when you can walk? There is so much value in the process and journet of walking. Of what can surprise you along the way, in the relationship you make to the land as you cross it. Driving doesn’t give you that.

I know we are in a time where we’ve realized we all better brush up on our digital skills and literacies so we can teach online when we need to. But even within that tech, there is simple tech that comes naturally to us, and complicated tech that doesn’t, that may take away some of the beauty of a journey of a simpler tech. It is so important to recognize which trips/journeys are best done by walking, and for which ones driving becomes necessary or essential.

2 thoughts on “Walking: Why Drive When You Can Walk?

  1. I am drawn to your wonderful metaphor here! Long ago, when I did more of that travel where you get into a metal tube to fly high across the land, I stared out the window at the patterns. You can see swaths of homes, but not really the people. There’s so much to see, but at the same time, I am so removed from the details.

    So in a car, you are much closer and can see details not visible from high above. You see people, animals, flowers, signs. But it’s still removed- you pass relatively fast, you cannot smell the flowers or hear much. With the windows up, you are in a bubble.

    Walking is offers the richest experience like zooming in a painting and seeing the brush strokes, you see, hear so much more rich detail, the delicateness of the flower, the smile on a face, the sound of a playground that you miss while moving much faster in a vehicle.

    And perhaps it’s not that one mode of transport is best but that we experience multiple ones (if possible).

    When I did travel to a new city, my favorite thing to do was to wander on foot, to escape the sterile hotel, without a destination in mind, and see as much detail and variety as possible. it brings to mind a favorite memory, when I got to meet Kate Bowles the first time in Fredericksburg, VA, and we did a wander walk out a trail of a Civil War battle that I knew from my time living there. We spotted flowers but I also learned of her husband’s interest in that part of American History. And it came full circle when I had the opportunity to visit her home in Australia, and we walked the small town she lives in and on the beach.

    Seeing the earth from above is a treat, but a walk is my preferred way to move and be.

    1. So lovely to hear from you here again, Alan. I regret that we never had an opportunity to walk together somewhere. Maybe some day!! I remember lots of walking around Fredericksburg, but strangely not with Kate (even though we were co-teaching a track the time I went!!!)

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