August 26, 2013

Walking with Awareness

Americans have been walking for exercise for decades. They walk to lose weight, to exercise their heart, to strengthen their bones and to improve their balance. Over 12,000 books are available on the subject of walking for exercise, and most of them suggest that the faster we walk the greater the benefit. 

Alexandra Horowitz’s new book, On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes, is not another treatise about how to walk for exercise. Instead, this is a book describing the benefits and of walking slowly with awareness.

Horowitz’s book is about human perception and small adventures that await us when we slow down and allow our senses to observe the beauty and simplicity of the world around us. “Our culture fosters inattention: we are creatures of that culture,” the author notes.
  • We see but we do not consciously observe. 
  • We hear but we do not consciously listen.
  • We touch but we do not consciously feel. 
I believe Jesus walked with awareness of the world around him, sensing the color, form and texture of simple things from everyday life like lilies, birds, weeds, wine, bread, fruit and water. These were all things that people knew well, and Jesus used them in parables to teach lessons about life and God. 

Alexandra Horowitz ends her book with this statement: “The unbelievable strata of trifling, tremendous things to observe are there for the looking. Look!”