Wildfjords recently ran a creative competition to offer two people a place on our first trail in June 2014. We are also running an Artist Residency trail in July, which aims to give artists a deepened appreciation of wild spaces. Both the competition and residency link creativity with walking. This post considers why this link might exist. Warning: reading this post might encourage you to move.
How long have you been seated? What do your legs feel like? I’ve been seated for 2 hours, my legs are crossed which causes my blood to flow erratically and results in a gentle yet painful swelling. I uncross. I shift. I think about standing but there’s nowhere to stand with a computer, there’s no stand for a computer. Even if there was, I still wouldn’t be walking, which is what my legs really want to do. But instead I stay, immersed in my ideas, these ideas, testing the limits of my mind’s ability to override my body’s signals.
At some point, I lose focus, sense a lack of creativity descending upon me. Before I snap and crack my elbow into the computer screen, I stand and stretch, then make that smallest of motions, the motion that sets us humans apart from all other life forms – the bipedal step. Having stepped, I step again, and feel a release of tension as if some obstruction has been removed from my veins.
The release travels rapidly through my body and propels me forward into yet more steps, becoming a stroll or stride perhaps to nowhere in particular yet most definitely away from the confines of this desk and computer. Seriously, I’m off! I implore, invite, demand that you join me and take a break. Stop reading: just up and go, roam about, strut or amble your way through town or field; we’ll meet back here afterwards, I promise.
Ok, I’m back. What did you see or sense on your sally around town or field? I caught glimpses of spring in the trees and new grasses, smelt the ocean on the air, saw a lot of cars and a curly-haired roller-blader, and felt refreshed to be moving, my thoughts now emerging at my body’s pace rather than my mind endlessly flitting about. It felt meditative, as if I were gently shepherding my thoughts into a continuous flow whilst they emerged from some invisible spring or well. Is it the act of perception whilst moving that creates a sense of continuity to thoughts? Are our minds somehow structured to perceive and think, perceive and think at the pace we’ve spent millions of years moving at – the pace of walking?
'All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking' Friedrich Nietzsche
There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest this is the case! Poets have been known to find their rhythm out walking, artist’s their inspiration and thinkers their deepest insights. I think part of the reason lies in the fact our creative capacities are derivatives or wholly emerged and descended from the environment; and when out walking, it’s a kind of happy homecoming where we forget our rigid realities and return to a more natural and fluid order of being - the order that our bodies have been forged in.
‘Walking is how the body measures itself against the earth’ Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking
Fully immersed in nature, our creative energies run wild, but how do we bring back these experiences into our daily lives? It’s common for people to use nature experiences as a kind of addictive escape, but what if we brought outdoor walking practice into our daily lives, feeding our imagination and recognising its alignment with the environment in the process? Would we be moved to nurture the source of our increased creativity and wellbeing – the environment? And in so doing choose to create a most beautiful foundation for our own individual and shared existence?
If you’re interested to find out, stand up, make a commitment of just 30 mins and take a walk in a natural or unnatural place, ground your feet and flounce through the grass, saunter up hills or march through the marsh. With openness, you might just find the creativity you've been looking for.
‘Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called walking’ George W. Bush
Our two competition winners, their entries and the selected artists for the Artist Residency trail will make up my next post. Happy tiptoeing x