Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Walking and Character (Janathon Day 6)

Walk - 5.5 miles, time 1hr 30m

Today I went to Berkhamsted and instead of going by car I walked (and took the bus back). It really was the most pleasant way to travel: the sun was out and, for the time of year, the air was mild. it was a short reprieve before the wind and rain settled in again and that added to the sense of being fortunate to be able to do this.

When walking the mind strays from subject to subject with a freedom it is difficult to replicate at the desk. There is an interesting article on this published in the Guardian a few days ago. It uses the hook that regular walking was part of Charles Darwin’s routine, but in all honesty it could have been any one of a number of famous people who have used walking to settle their bodies and stimulate their mind. I wonder if it would be more difficult to find an artist who doesn’t walk than one who does?

Anyway the bit of the article I found amusing was the attempt to ascribe particular virtues to different forms of exercise:
For example, swimming can evoke the sublime, and gesture at the precariousness of human life. As the ancient Greek poets remind us, sprinting can prompt pride: not simply in fast legs or fit lungs, but in the commitment to striving before mortality claims us. Regular jogging can promote consistency of character, and keep us from losing the plot.

I am only partly convinced though. I can believe in the pride of sprinters - one only has to look at the preening and posing of the combatants of a 100m race - but as for jogging, I think it is a mistake to confuse the striving for consistency of effort with consistency of character. Although I have been jogging for many years my ability to lose the plot has not diminished (though some might argue that I have yet to find a plot never mind lose it). Sometimes we just try too hard to find congruence.

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