Our Head of Policy and Communications, Tanya Braun looks at the links that can be made from something as simple as walking.
Kate Humble recently wrote a book called Thinking on my Feet. In it she describes a year of her life through her walking journeys. She told us:
We’re so lucky here in Britain because our towns and cities have a wealth of green space. There has been a lot of research done between the connection between mental wellbeing and green spaces. Being close to nature really does make you feel better. So, if you’re having a bit of a down day go out to your local park, go out for a walk. Just being outside, seeing the flowers and hearing the birds, seeing someone who says hello. They can make a real difference. Something so simple and totally free.
Julia Hamilton picked up one of Paul’s leaves… She said:
I was going for a walk in London Fields, Hackney, which is my local park, because it’s a place I go to get some air and perspective. I love the tall plain trees and the paths. It’s a relief to go there if you have been feeling cooped up inside a flat. On the day I found Paul’s leaf, I had the need to get out. My mother had died that week and I wanted some fresh air.
I enjoy walking in London and in parks, I’m not particularly an outdoors type but when I walk, I can think, and I often come up with solutions to things I’ve been pondering over.
It was an Autumnal day, there were many leaves on the ground, piles of them in fact, you couldn’t see the grass for them. For some reason I decided to walk through the leaves and not on the path this time; it felt like a fun, childlike thing to do. I’d only walked for about two minutes when something caught my eye. There was some white writing on a leaf. I looked at it and saw the message:
“When you’re frail, I love you most.” This was extraordinary. It felt like a kindness, a hug and a gentle phrase from someone who cared for me. It felt like a message from my mother telling me it was ok to be sad and feel frail, and that was when she was loving me most. She had only died that week and it really did feel like a message from ‘above’, though I am not religious. It was a soothing message. I looked around to see if anyone had done this, I looked to see if there were any others. There were none. In all the hundreds of leaves, I’d found a message. I picked it up. When I got home, I typed the message into google, but found nothing. It was only several months later that I saw a photo on Instagram of a silkscreened leaf with a different message on it, that I recognised that this must be by the same person. It was Paul West. I wrote him an email, telling him that I had found his leaf.
Yes, walking offers up things you would never expect. Ideas, objects, people. You see things you wouldn’t see if you took a bus, you meet people you would never talk to on a tube. It opens up opportunities to think and to come up with ideas you would never have thought about if you just sat at home trying to sort out a problem. It solves problems. The rhythm of walking is calming, peaceful, hypnotic and meditative. You are literally earthing yourself with your feet on the ground.
If you have a story about how walking has changed something in your life, get in touch.