I have roamed a very good chunk of Lansing so far. In miles it has reached over 430. In distance I have walked all of the streets north of the river, east of Pennsylvania and quite a few random neighborhoods everywhere else. I have walked the busiest down town areas and the most desolate country looking roads. I have passed hundreds, if not thousands of people; fellow walkers. I have noticed that many times us walkers are invisible. We are not noticed unless we are stepping out into the pathway of a motorized vehicle or stopping the traffic with the touch of one of those beeping electronic cross walk devices. We walkers notice each other, unless the other passer byer does not choose to notice, however there is then an obvious, head movement or random act of busyness that keeps eye contact to a minimum. After three years of walking however, I don’t allow such nonsense. If they have speakers in their ears I yell hello or wave. If they are trying not to look at me I continue to watch them until they sneak a peek at me and they in turn are presented with my smiling face and a jovial greeting. They always say “hi” back. To my joy many fellow walkers use these same techniques right back at me. The way that I have taken on this project is to walk streets. It’s on these streets that I meet the real walkers, the walkers that need to walk. I sometimes, when I stroll a quiet, peaceful neighborhood, I meet up with exercise walkers. Those are not the types I am referring too. Those type usual end up at a park or the river trail. The folks I mean are these types:
“Living much out of doors, in the sun and wind, will no doubt produce a certain roughness of character — will cause a thicker cuticle to grow over some of the finer qualities of our nature, as on the face and hands, or as severe manual labor robs the hands of some of their delicacy of touch.”
Walking by Thoreau
These are the ones I see, often. They walk because they have no other way to get around from point A to point B, whether point B is a bus stop, a grocery store or some other location. This type of person is not easy to characterize either. I’ve seen nurses, mothers, men in suits, and worn men & women like mentioned above.
There is a freedom to walking; that is true. There are places that someone on foot can get to that no one else can. There are intricacies seen that only someone walking by may notice. There is an art to walking but it seems to be a skill that few are doing anymore unless they have to. “I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks, who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering; which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the middle ages, and asked charity, under pretence of going à la sainte terre” — to the holy land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a sainte-terrer“, a saunterer — a holy-lander. They who never go to the holy land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds, but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all, but the Saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.”
Walking by Thoreau
Thank you for sauntering with me.