Usually in the Buddhist tradition, you sit, and then you stand up and do slow walking in the meditation hall, and then you sit again. We don’t do that here. Instead, we do outdoor walking. That practice is helpful because you can apply it in your daily life. You walk normally—not too slowly—so you don’t look like you’re practicing and people see you as normal. And then when you go home, when you’re going from the parking lot to your office, you can enjoy walking.
The basic practice is how to enjoy—how to enjoy walking and sitting and eating and showering. It’s possible to enjoy every one, but our society is organized in such a way that we don’t have time to enjoy. We have to do everything too quickly.
Walking a thousand miles a year hasn’t given me a tidy list for how to live a good and effective life that I could stick up on the refrigerator. But it’s kept the promise contained in the Latin phrase solvitur ambulando, or “it is solved by walking.” Originally used to describe a premise that is explored through practical experiment, the phrase has been used by thinkers, writers and travelers throughout millennia of written history, people who believed — because they walked and found it to be true — that walking was an answer to the stuck thought, the sorrowing heart, the moral dilemma. It is the realization that freedom of the mind is intertwined with freedom of movement.
Throughout Elementary and Middle School I was a "walker". In High School I'd occasionally miss the bus - It was a 2½ mile walk home.
When I left St. Louis, I sold my car. Most days I walked to and from work. Enduring Northeast winters when gusts of below-zero-wind would harden the contacts in my eyes. Through humid summers where I'd arrive home soaked with sweat.
In San Francisco I rocked a granny cart to help when trudging large piles of laundry to the laundromat. For a couple of months I lived at one end of Sutter Street (near the bus lot) and worked at the other (at Market). Walking the length of that street at the end of the day is the best job perk I've ever had. When going back to visit, I'll make time to walk it again. It's up there with SFMOMA and a burrito on my priority list.
In Santa Fe, pedestrians have the right away. Though no one seemed to know it. Or they did and were furious about it. Even city buses will come at you aggressively while you're in a cross walk (with a stop sign). Still…It's hard to beat a snowy walk through little adobe neighborhoods.
I bought a bike a year or so after moving to Portland. I can count on two hands the number of times I've ridden it.