“We should take wandering outdoor walks, so that the mind might be nourished and refreshed by the open air and deep breathing.”SENECA, ON TRANQUILITY OF MIND, 17.8
Today’s focus from The Daily Stoic is very simple — the power of taking a walk. Author Ryan Holiday highlights a very straightforward quote from the philosopher Seneca, honestly one that’s kind of obvious.
Take a walk to clear your head.
Take a walk to solve a problem.
Take a walk to make a decision.
Take a walk for some exercise (of course) and to nourish your mind.
Nothing super ground-breaking or revolutionary here, but still some good wisdom that is easily forgotten. Moving your body helps to dislodge things in your mind, helps to free blockages, helps to reset. It gets your blood flowing and sometimes highlights things that you haven’t though of yet. It can calm you down when you’re feeling stressed, and it can get your creative juices flowing.
I used to walk all the time
Long, long before the time of ubiquitous smartphones and streaming music (the most you could hope for was a Discman), I would walk long distances home after house parties. I liked it! Other people preferred being driven home by slightly-drunk friends – I preferred walking for miles to get home. It took hours sometimes, but it helped me sort through my thoughts.
Later, when I had my first few jobs in digital marketing, the stress and anxiety would get to me, and I would grind my teeth and be ready to scream, and just… you guessed it… I would go for a walk. I would leave my desk in my cubicle in downtown Seattle, and I would just walk around the block at the ground level. Again and again and again, until I felt calmer. It worked!
I took a walk today
I took a walk today, for really the same reasons as indicated above. I was feeling frustrated, and I needed to clear my head. I needed that breath of fresh air, that connection with nature, to help me reset. I walked down to a stream that is near a small retention pond next to a park, about 15 minutes from my house. I sat by the river’s edge and listened to the water, hoping to hear some wisdom. I imagined myself (as I often do), like the Siddhartha Buddha, learning the ultimate wisdom at last at the water’s edge.
Did I have an epiphany? I don’t know. I did see a mother duck lead her five ducklings across a fierce current, and that felt like something. It felt symbolic. I’m not sure what of, though.