Walking and running are straight ahead activities. The path can twist and turn but the body follows the eyes’ line of sight. Look ahead walk ahead. Look up the hill run up the hill.
Chaos is the antithesis. Run here than there. Turn. Stop. Spin around and go back. Left or right? No order.
And so chaos at the end of a marathon is the cruelest irony. A marathon is one of the signature straight-ahead events. 26.2 miles of straight ahead. A turn here or there for sure. The runner runs straight ahead to the finish line.
The collision of straight ahead and chaos which erupted in Boston this week will echo into the future. The collision of the stillness of the night and the quaking of the ground, fire, destruction and mayhem in West, Texas this week will echo well into the future.
But as a community and as individuals we will continue to walk and run.
The act of running is quite natural. Almost all biped and quadruped animals do it. In the quadruped world though, running is a necessity. Hunting. Think cheetah, running in a burst of speed to kill its prey. Hunted. Think Thompson’s Gazelle, running, leaping really, to stay alive.
Canadian Trail Runner Adam Campbell
When we see an animal running at top speed we might remark that it is “flying”. Running and flying do share something in common – no contact with the ground. In flying a bird has no contact for long periods of time. In running the flight is momentary, the fraction of time in which both feet are flying above the ground, contacting it again briefly and than soaring again. In walking at least one foot is in contact with the ground at any moment.
Humans do not have to run for survival. Yet some feel they could not survive without it. Are they running from? What are they running to?
Spend six minutes finding out in a film with out speaking but at times filled with noise about a runner who runs to save his soul: Silence
Walking Home by British poet and writer Simon Armitage is gaining popularity with current reviews in the New York Times (positive) and the Wall Street Journal (trending negative). And now here too.
The author, a well known writer in England, walks the Pennine Way, a 270 mile north-south hike across the spine of England, following the valleys and (small) peaks of the land as it travels across moorlands and cuts in and out and around small towns. Mr. Armitage, married and 47 years old, sets out to walk alone after having arranged nightly lodging from well wishers and a series of poetry readings along the way as well. He made these arrangements while publicizing his trip via the internet. And at each poetry reading he passed the hat, or in his case a sock to collect funds to help supplement his expenses.
Mr. Armitage writes directly about his experiences, injects some humor, describes his surroundings and the people he meets, stays with and walks together with as well. I found his writing style pleasant if not always engaging and some of his observations thought-provoking. In one paragraph he reflects on the experience of staying each night in someone else’s house, usually in a spare bedroom of a child long since grown yet still decorated with awards and books and other memorabilia from years ago. These rooms are memory chambers he writes, just not his.
For hikers and backpackers the thought of a thru-hike of the Pennine’s is enticing. Not too long. Food and lodging are nearby. Not too steep, with the tallest peaks less than the 3,000 foot high peaks of the Catskills. Yet with the fog and rain, one can get lost in the Pennines, making this walk not a ‘walk in the park’. Whether you are enamored with Armitage’s writing style or not, give him credit for introducing us to this 2-3 week walk, over hills and dales, across boggy moorland yet passing touchstones of Wordsworth and the Bronte sisters along the way.