Walking: One Step At a Time
“Walking: One Step at a Time may feel like the road until now seldom taken: a book that is part rumination, part walking coach and companion . . . and one that might just do more for your health and happiness than your treadmill alone ever could.”
Walking: One Step at a Time by explorer Erling Kagge may just be the best book about walking you’ve ever read. This is especially true if:
• You’ve tried to like walking and failed.
• Walking bores you to tears, but it’s the one exercise you could conveniently do given your lifestyle.
• You’ve read dozens of books on walking, but are turned off by all the health-related information because even though the reason you want to walk is, in fact, for health and weight loss, you’ll never achieve them by walking if you first have to read an entire book of statistics that may or may not be true because they’re largely about people having nothing to do with how you live your life.
• You’ve also read uninformative, gimmicky books promising to make walking fun, but realized after a few pages that if that were what you wanted, you’d read a magazine article.
• You once owned a treadmill that went from room to room of your house, functioning as a valet, as alternate wardrobe storage, as a space on which to fold clothes while sitting down, and in a pinch, as a lower-than-average ironing board.
• You got that state-of-the-art treadmill for free because when you arrived to pick it up from the woman selling it on Craigslist, she refused to take your money as long as you took the treadmill out of her sight immediately.
• When you read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, you finally managed to “konmarie” your well-traveled treadmill right out the door and felt very good for a few days.
• You’re now seriously thinking of looking for a new treadmill, even though it will most certainly only result in obscene amounts of guilt over the fact that you can’t see yourself ever feeling the “urge” to use it for actual walking.
• And, finally, this book is for you if you just can’t quit the idea that walking could be really, really good for you, if only you could figure out where its magic resides once and for all.
Looking for it, you might open this book and encounter this first line: “One day my grandmother was no longer able to walk. That was the day she died.”
Soon thereafter, an important secret will reveal itself via beautiful, flowing prose, as wise and soothing as the voice it suggests:
“I have no idea how many walks I’ve been on. I’ve been on short walks; I’ve been on long walks. I’ve walked from villages and to cities. I’ve walked through the day and through the night, from lovers and to friends. I have walked in deep forests and over big mountains, across snow-covered plains and through urban jungles. I have walked bored and euphoric and I have tried to walk away from problems. I have walked in pain and in happiness. But no matter where and why, I have walked and walked. I have walked to the ends of the earth—literally.
All my walks have been different, but looking back I see one common denominator: inner silence. Walking and silence belong together. Silence is as abstract as walking is concrete.”
By then, you’ll be hooked. You’ll see that this is not an ordinary book about walking, precisely because it’s just, as in only, about walking. And though the concepts of meditation and inner peace are present and in some places suggested, this is not a new age book, nor one about meditation, nor about the evils of rushing and the big city.
This is about quieting your mind and putting one foot in front of the other, nothing else needed for success. It’s about giving your body and mind only one goal: to go somewhere you could easily reach in minutes if you drove your car by walking instead. To observe and breathe and think and feel your way wherever you go. To exist and be with yourself. By walking. As you walk. Walking and only walking.
Throughout, Mr. Kagge will tell you about his life, his path, his family. And like a conversation with a friend, it will move you to think about your own. As you walk. (Here and there, he will illustrate some of his pet peeves for you and, fair warning, the city of Los Angeles does not fare well in the book.)
You’ll keep reading and even though the book won’t explicitly say that when you forget about having the right shoes, walking the right amount of time, doing it the right way, pumping your handheld weights as you walk, wearing the right thing, or having the most environmentally-sound water bottle, the magic you’ve been hunting for will happen. But you’ll know it’s true because you’ll be walking and enjoying it, maybe for the first time ever.
Walking: One Step at a Time may feel like the road until now seldom taken: a book that is part rumination, part walking coach and companion, a small book of thought, only a few minimal illustrations sprinkled throughout like crumbs on a path, and one that might just do more for your health and happiness than your treadmill alone ever could.