BOSTON — John Muir and Henry David Thoreau are two of America's better known walkers. Walt Whitman was no slouch either when it came to picking 'em up and putting 'em down.
They lived in a time when, if you felt hemmed in by neighbors, one recourse was to start walking. No looking back until you wanted to stop, just a silken stroll over hill and dale. The cares of mind and heart melted.
Lane Hartill (see page 18) introduces us to Al LePage, someone who takes his walking seriously. The inveterate hiker has just finished trekking part of the Eastern Seaboard to drum up support for an East Coast trail that would follow coast and shoreline from Maine to Florida.
Apropos of walking, I still remember the wise counsel of a philosophy professor for a college course on existentialism. We studied Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Gabriel Marcel, and Martin Heidegger. This was heady stuff for undergraduates.
Metaphysical cul-de-sacs on suicide, despair, absurdity, fear, and loathing wrapped not a few of us a little too tight about the ultimate meaning of being.
His advice: "Take a long walk, 10 miles. You'll just be glad to sit down and stop thinking."
Jedediah Purdy talks as if he has done some walking himself. Yvonne Zipp's interview with the young author (page 17) resembles a slow two-step on a wooded path in his home state of West Virginia.
To his credit, Mr. Purdy appears to have escaped the sound-bite tempo of television and cinema.
Samuel Johnson took warm baths. Robert Frost swung from birch trees. Ernest Hemingway went fishing. Give me a long walk on the good green earth, and all's right with the world.
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