Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The bright minds who went walking

Albert Einstein walking.
"To walk out of our houses and beyond our city limits is to shuck off the pretense and assumptions that we otherwise live by. This is how we open ourselves to brave new notions or independent attitudes. This is how we come to know our own minds.

"The philosopher Thomas Hobbes had a walking stick with an inkhorn built into its top so he could jot things down as they popped into his head during long walks. Rousseau would have approved of the strategy; he writes, 'I can only meditate when I am walking. When I stop, I cease to think; my mind only works with my legs.' Albert Einstein, for his part, was diligent about taking a walk through the woods on the Princeton campus every day.

"Other famous walkers include Charles Dickens and Mother Teresa, John Bunyan and Martin Luther King Jr., Francis of Assisi, and Toyohiko Kagawa. Why do so many bright minds seem set on their walks away from the desk? It can’t be just that they need a break from thinking—some of their best thinking is done during this supposed 'downtime' out of doors.

"This is the gift of even a short, solitary walk in a city park. To find, in glimpsing a sign of the elements, that one does belong to something more elemental than an urban crowd. That there is a universe of experience beyond human networks and social grooming—and that this universe is our true home."

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