1 Mar 2020 – noon GMT – 3°C Partly Cloudy – Co. Longford, Ireland
It’s March 1st. I’m reading ‘In Praise of Walking‘ by Shane O’Mara. A gift from my wife, I put off reading it until about a month before the next big walk.
In the first few pages he reminded me that French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote “I can only meditate when I am walking. When I stop, I cease to think; my mind only works with my legs”.
Rousseau must have given up walking sometime before 1778, long after he’d famously written on inequality and social contracts. He was a big influencer. French Revolution big. The Terror.
I too take my problems out for a walk. Smaller problems. Much smaller. Out on the walk, I’m usually rewarded with birdsong, peace and tranquility together with a rush of endorphin driven clarity. A different scale of thought and influence. But the principle is the same. I use my legs to help my mind work better.
I like walking so much that I’m off to Rome on foot. Along with Chris W. We expect to depart from Manchester on April Fools day and arrive in Rome in early August.
Aiming to average 25 km each day, there will be lots of time to wonder how Rousseau would view the global challenges we face today. Climate change, water rights, air quality, migration to shelter from wars, gender bias due to reproduction inequalities, social immobility due to restricted access to education – and that’s just a list I concocted from the most basic elements of the Maslow hierarchy. That’s not to deny massive social progress in 250 years. It’s just that the human population has increased ten-fold since Rousseau’s time. The number of people in world government statistical 3-sigma brackets, the outliers, is by definition less than 1%. But 1% of 7.7 billion is a lot of potentially disenfranchised people. And there are the same number at the opposite side of statistical curve – the 1% population that control 80% of the global wealth.
Walking to Rome won’t solve such problems. And Covid-19 doesn’t deter us as of today. Perhaps the health advice will change. Otherwise, we expect to talk a lot and think a lot. And walk a lot.
And if it goes well, I expect to journal a lot. Maybe not every day. But regularly.
Until next time.