Walking to Be

Some walks have purpose, some are aimless. Walks with purpose are what I think of as “to do” walks. Walking to the shops, walking to work, walking the dog, walking for exercise.

Other walks are “to be” walks. Walks for the joy of being outside, walks with open eyes and keen ears and eager senses.

To be or not to be, then, is a question for the walker as well as for Hamlet. Is my walk a walk of purpose, a walk that gains a goal? Or is it a walk for me, just because – to be in the sun, to be moving, to be aware of my surroundings.

I’ve written before about words for walking. Some of those words convey intent and determination – trudge, march, stride. I think of them as walks with a purpose. “To do” walks have to be done, you’ve got to get on with things after all.

But “to be” walks, those are the ones we remember. The stroll along the beach in the sun. The quiet hike through forests. The delicious hand-holding wander on summer evenings.

You can like the “to do” walks. It’s still a walk after all and maybe the weather is nice, or you’re looking forward to the destination and after all you do need to get that job done.

But the “to be” walks, those you love. It’s the difference between reading the newspaper and immersing in a great book; between quenching your thirst and tasting great wine; between eating lunch at your desk and having dinner with friends.