Because I’m always on the lookout for new ways to avoid work, I decided to kill part of the day walking a trail I had never tried before. It turned out to be a beautiful way to procrastinate. The landscape was so gorgeous—a twisting stream, a few hills, snowy woods, a fox—that it was almost ridiculous. I mean, who needs that much beauty?
I’ve read that Thoreau tried to walk four hours each day. He wrote that as soon as he began to move his legs, his thoughts would start to flow. I guess I know that feeling, but I’m more skeptical about my walk-generated thoughts. As long as I’m walking it’s possible to believe that I’m having all kinds of brilliant brainstorms, but by the time I get back home and put them down on paper they’ve usually stopped looking so brilliant. Walking and self-delusion must be connected, somehow.
It's not always easy walking in my neighborhood, partly because my neighbors are too neighborly. They pull alongside me in their cars and ask me if I want a lift. I have to explain that I want to walk, but thanks anyway. The assumption, I guess, is that if you're walking something must be wrong--you must have forgotten to check your gas gauge or something.
But on the trail it was all quiet. I stopped once and could hear nothing but a few birds and some ice shifting in the stream. I had to clap a few times, loudly, just to break the silence. The echo of it scared off a bird or two, and I got on my way, just so I could feel I was getting somewhere.