I walked again this morning for the first time in over a month. (and look now I’m blogging. I’m feeling pretty accomplished.) I haven’t been finding enough time for writing, walking, working, etc. Yes, I’ve been legitimately busy – moving my family from NYC to LA, refurbishing my website, fielding press for my book: Sex, Lies & Creativity – but walking is very important to my mood and creativity.
It’s not a weight loss thing for me, it’s an energy management thing. When i don’t walk, I get a little manic. I can even get a little murder-y.
As I walked along in the shade of the park, getting in my 45 minutes of pressure valve-release, I was reminded of Daily Rituals book by Mason Currey. Currey wrote a brilliant voyeuristic book about how great creators worked, day to day, hour by hour. (See also: Should You Be Working Harder?) When it comes to walking there are a number of creators who walked daily. According to Currey’s meticulous research, I’ll be walking in the company of filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, composer Morton Feldman, Beethoven, Kierkegaard, Chopin, Gustave Flaubert, Thomas Mann, Freud, Jung, Mahler, and Gertrude Stein. Walking makes its own time by returning your energy to normal, and as Chopin said, by bringing you home with ideas “singing in your head.”
Julia Cameron says simply: “the truth is that walking holds our solutions… As I walked, emotions would wash through me. I knew what to write, how to write it and that write I should. A day at a time, a walk at a time, even a simple step at a time, my sad and tangled life began to sort itself.” (Walking in this World, Penguin, 2002. p. 11)
What all these creative luminaries knew – without knowing – is that walking keeps your left brain busy, thinking about what it takes to keep walking. Left, right, left, right, swing arms? swerve left to pass etc. As that’s all going on, your right brain is less supervised. Its looser, less structured. less logical ideas come to the surface and live long enough without criticism to bloom into the solutions you’ve been looking for. For my part, I’m going to get back on the garden path and let my repressed ideas bloom. If you’re hurting – anything besides your foot – or searching for answers, or stressing out without relief… for lack of a better idea? Walk it off. (Your gym teacher had the right idea – even if for the wrong reasons.)