Not walking gets you where you don’t want to go.

Day 144 / 874 Miles

Last week I advocated for more public space thats dedicated to an improved ambiance of pedestrians unhindered by motor traffic, where the car isn’t king. Thoughts on the matter made me curious about the specific point on the humanity clock when mobility began its makeover (or when feet became obsolete). My reconnoiter shows it most likely began on Sep 15th, 1830. The first fully steam driven passenger railway was inaugurated, with great fanfare, between Liverpool and Manchester. The technological advent was one giant leap for mankind, as a rash of track laying around the world began. The industrial revolution now had wheels and a motor to drive it forward. Slowly humans became mere parcels to be delivered from place to place, armored inside rail (and later) automotive cars, and at speeds a little faster than humanity’s 3 mile an hour walking pace. These days we’re express shipped from one temperature controlled space to another, so conditioned to avoid walking we’ll drive round-n-round the grocery parking lot in order to shorten the time it takes to get inside the next comfort zone.

Now hold your horses Hoss…of course I’m not pining for the good ole days before the wheel, when the pace of life was slow and life spans were under 30. I’m just recognizing that all that freeing up of time that technology affords us is, ironically, used to do more work. In just under two centuries, we’ve metamorphosed from a pure labor existence to one where we have to schedule time to sweat, often on machines designed for that express purpose. Walking hasn’t been spared either and has largely been phased out too. Think of moving sidewalks. In the first half of the 20th century walking clubs were started in Europe and American where people got together just to go for a walk (can you believe that). Many people still do it, but on a treadmill in the air-conditioned comfort inside the home or gym. (Looked inside of a Planet Fitness lately? They’ve got more treadmills than Turners Furniture has LazyBoy Loungers).

I probably shouldn’t be throwing rocks inside the glass gymnasium, as I attended one religiously for years. I’d worship-out in the Body Works church, paying my tithe in buckets of sweat on their treadmills, until I bought my own. Daily I’d spend an hour in my own conditioned air seeing only the face of the news anchor and going nowhere. Looking back, it seems absurd.

I expect a few readers of this may wonder if I’ve noticed its hotter than a sweat lodge out there. I have. But if you go earlier in the morning, sure as Bob’s your uncle, it ain’t so bad. Also, one might express a legitimate concern of looking peculiar by walking distant roads. (I’ve been asked more than once if I’m alright or did I need a lift to my car). Yes, on many occasions I’ve been looked at with obvious suspicion like someone who’s a tad touched (perhaps having a late mid-life crisis) or like I might be a dangerous wild man. (For the record, I’m still waiting on the mid-life crisis and I’m not dangerous). Finally, someone may still have concern about the danger of being in unfamiliar places…anything could happen.  (I’d refer them to my Will Robinson post of a few weeks ago). Trust me, it’s as safe as eat’in corn on the cob.

When you think about it, walking is the most basic natural thing we humans do. It’s like flying for a bird, or swimming for a fish. Even they probably have their own social clubs (flocks or schools) for exercise. So, get your fanny up off that couch and …well, you know what to do.  Till then, I’ll be upright, singing in the saddle. Happy Trails.

On a more somber note, I’d be remiss not to pay some respect here. When I began thinking about this quest, I decided that starting a website and attempting a charitable fundraiser should be considered. I reached out to (quite) a number of website designers and was ghosted by all of’em. I’d resigned myself to just go ahead and do the thing, sans the public aspect and fundraising attempt. When making preparations, I stumbled on a local marketing company, Brand South. I sent an e-Mail expecting the same silence but was quickly called back by Arthur Morin, the man behind the company. He thought my idea was unique and therefore worthy of some marketing push. I agreed and we later met to discuss details. We hit it off and I appreciated his counsel, having never engaged in such an endeavor. He acted as an effective liaison and got the ball rolling on the website. I am grateful for that. We communicated regularly until I heard no more from him for about six weeks. He finally responded and informed me that he was experiencing a grave health crisis, and would be unable to be of any further service. I was shocked to hear earlier this week that he had passed. I only knew Arthur briefly but felt he was a kindred spirit. He was certainly was an interesting fellow.  Godspeed Arthur. R.I.P.