Life patterns #1: walking as transportation and recreation
A pattern language is a method of describing good design practices or patterns of useful organization within a field of expertise. This post is the first pattern in a language describing a slow, simple and “light” style of living for challenging times.
More than any other creature on earth, humans have evolved as masters of travel on foot, but our modern lifestyles often alienate us from this key aspect of our being, weakening us both physically and mentally.
Over tens of thousands of years, the human body was our primary mode of transportation; among all species we are the best adapted to cover long distances on foot. As a result of this evolutionary legacy, studies show, we are at our best in our lives when we walk a lot. Our bodies stay strong and mobile, our minds sharp and flexible. Walking costs us nothing, aside from the small amount of fuel it burns in the form of food calories. Compared with other modes of transportation, it is astoundingly environmentally friendly, with no need for heavy, energy-guzzling machines and the expensive infrastructure they rely upon to function.
Of course, walking isn’t always easy today. It is slow compared to other “heavier” modes of transportation. And, moreover, much of today’s world, which prioritizes speed and scale, is optimized to support these faster, more energy-intensive modes at walking’s expense. (Ever tried walking to CostCo?)
And yet, it is still very possible to set up a lifestyle based around walking. There are many communities, and neighbourhoods within these communities, that have a diverse range of amenities within walking distance. This includes practical amenities – such as shops and services – that allow us to incorporate walking into our daily routines and chores. It also includes beautiful spaces, such as parks, attractive streets and campuses, and wilderness areas that provide inviting spaces in which to walk for pure pleasure.
There is something fundamentally absurd about individuals driving long distances to work out – perhaps on the treadmill – at vast, expensive chain gyms. Perhaps this is why so many of us, despite the best of intentions, pay for expensive gym memberships that we rarely use. How much better to live a life in which there is no for gyms or the motivation to drag ourselves into them?
Therefore, structure your lifestyle to include regular walking both as a mode of transportation and for pleasure, so that such behavior becomes automatic.