I look and look.
Looking’s a way of being: one becomes,
sometimes, a pair of eyes walking.
Walking wherever looking takes one.1
excerpt from “Looking, Walking, Being,”
by Denise Levertov
Long, meandering walks are one of the great joys of time away. Time for exploring with my eyes and ears, letting thoughts drift and ricochet against what I see, losing myself in the weather and the sounds of whatever’s around.
When the itch to escape for a week struck this spring, Kathy and Mark offered their home in Port Townsend at a time they’d be away. My daily walks that week began there.
Fort Worden2 is an easy walk from their home, and the park’s proximity was irresistible.
In a recent New York Times piece, Teddy Wayne worries that we’re losing opportunities to be alone with our thoughts, both physically and mentally.3 We’re so distractible, and electronic devices that provide immediate gratification are so often close at hand. He provided data about our increasing use of these devices and brain science suggesting that they interfere with our capacity for introspection. He quoted Nicholas Carr contrasting a state of mind that values speed and quick answers with an “open-ended way of thinking where you’re not always trying to answer a question. You’re trying to go where that thought leads you.”
As I head out to walk, with my phone safely in my pocket, I leave my questions behind for a while and settle into simply looking and walking and being.
1 Excerpt from “Looking, Walking, Being,” by Denise Levertov, published in 1996 by New Directions Books. I return to the whole poem frequently, and the book itself is a well-worn volume in my library.
2 I introduced Fort Worden in an earlier post, “Home – a confabulation.”
3 Teddy Wayne, “The End of Reflection,” The New York Times, June 11, 2016.