Thomas A. Clark

In Praise of Walking

“Early one morning, any morning, we can set out, with the least possible baggage, and discover the world.”
Scottish poet Thomas A. Clark’s (b. 1944) delightfully elegant prose poem, In Praise of Walking, is only a few pages but captures every pressing, pleasurable and persistent aspect of walking. The physical harmony, unity of mind and body, the lines we create by walking. Walking exposes ourselves to the world around us, allows us to see. Walking enacts choice, we select as we go.

Clark’s writing is short but complete. As Hemingway said there is no mistake that the Gettysburg Address is so short. Good prose omits the unnecessary.

And yet, much truth here. I love Clark’s easy summary of nighttime walks “To walk for hours on a clear night is the largest experience we can have.” We expand ourselves into the night, so much empty, open and welcoming space.

For an additional read on the relationship between footfall and cognition read Robert MacFarlane’s superb writing on the history of paths and those who make them. For a guide to things you might see while walking grab this superlative miscellany on the meaning of flowers.