If you pop over to Keri Smith’s website for her book The Wander Society, you’ll find printable PDFs of “The Wander Society Pocket Library,” handy little pocket zines you can print out and stick in your pocket before you go sauntering around.
- “The Art of Idleness” by Steven Graham
- “Sauntering” by Christopher Morley
- “Evening Over Sussex” by Virginia Woolf
- “Walking” by Henry David Thoreau
They’re all worth reading, but my favorite, no surprise, is HDT’s “Walking” (1862):
If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again—if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man—then you are ready for a walk.
It’s chased nicely by Morley, who says, “I can be as solitary in a city street as ever Thoreau was in Walden.” (1920, from Travels in Philadelphia.)
“The Art of Idleness” (1926) is excerpted from the recently reissued The Gentle Art of Tramping.
Virginia Woolf, by the way, was a fan of Thoreau, and wrote this about him in 1917, on his 100th birthday:
Few people, it is safe to say, take such an interest in themselves as Thoreau took in himself; for if we are gifted with an intense egoism we do our best to suffocate it in order to live on decent terms with our neighbours. We are not sufficiently sure of ourselves to break completely with the established order. This was Thoreau’s adventure; his books are the record of that experiment and its results. He did everything he could to intensify his own understanding of himself, to foster whatever was peculiar, to isolate himself from contact with any force that might interfere with his immensely valuable gift of personality. It was his sacred duty, not to himself alone but to the world; and a man is scarcely an egoist who is an egoist on so grand a scale. When we read “Walden,” the record of his two years in the woods, we have a sense of beholding life through a very powerful magnifying glass.
Filed under: walking