§ I go for meandering walks twice almost daily, usually to cool off after working out or just at the end of the day. Sometimes it will be one of the first things to do in the morning.
It’s definitely a healthy habit physically, and I’m not sure where it came from. As a child and teenager I would pace a lot—in a circle, oval, or lemniscate—and as an adult, I’ve usually done a fair bit of walking to get places—jobs, cafés, train stations—so perhaps I’m just someone who walks. I go on hikes in nature when the opportunities arise, and I walk long distances when it’s necessary.
Mentally, though, the habit is a mixed bag. It’s a fantastic way for me to wear a rut in the ground and in my mind. Literally when I walk a path I’ve walked before or turn a corner I’ve turned before, I’ll remember the thoughts I thought before and the moments in my life I lived before, on that path or at that corner, and in my returning I’ll be reliving. It’s like the Method of Loci for training memory, except applied to every locus.
In life in general, if anyone meanders aimlessly and unreflectively they’ll gravitate toward something they didn’t aim for. I’ve found my walks are no exception: I usually stay within a certain radius of my house, and stick to certain streets, and walk at certain times of day. I also usually think about similar things at similar streets—mostly general reflection and internal dialogue about tasks to be done. It’s a routine, but, mostly there’s no harm in it. It might even be helpful to “talk it out” to myself.
Somewhat disturbingly, though, I’ve managed to reinforce more negative thought patterns, which is why this is on my mind. Last week I became aware that at as I approach a particular intersection, I tend to become angry, and always with the same person. It’s not an emotion I want to reinforce, and regrettably I walked a deep rut by not paying attention to my thoughts.
As soon as I noticed this … I stopped at the intersection and paced back and forth, looking all around myself to try to jog my memory and understand why these feelings were so strong at this node between the mesh of the material world and the mess of my psyche. All I saw in front of me was a churning gray sky, tree leaves blowing in the wind, and damp cement and asphalt—all I saw in my memory was freeway ramps, landscapers, and other cities. There wasn’t much of a connection, really. Just some kind of residue built up in a locus of my psyche and map of the world.