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Solvitur ambulando

Solved by Walking; or, another piece on how I write...

By Kendall Defoe Published 2 months ago Updated 20 days ago 3 min read
Solvitur ambulando
Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

It is a phrase that is said to have been created by Saint Augustine, meaning to refer to a problem which is solved by a practical experiment. Now, that is the direct Wikipedia definition, and I think that it can explain more about why I continue to do this.

I have no car. My two bikes - one a ten-speed; the other a foldable model - are terrible at navigating the streets in my hometown, especially since the latter requires too much energy to work the pedals, and the former is now two flat tires and a wheel nut stripped down to the nub. I have a metro card and that is it. Oh, and my own two feet.

My two feet...

I do wonder what I will do when I can no longer rely on them. I have just finished Stephen King's 'The Long Walk,' and I wonder what would happen to me in such a scenario. If you do not know the book, the story is about a contest where one hundred boys are chosen to walk until there is only one left standing on the highway they travel on (three warnings and they 'get their ticket punched'). Now, this is an extreme scenario, but it does make me wonder on what I rely on my feet for, and what I would do without the habit.

Well, I doubt that I would be a writer. I have used long walks to focus my mind, clarify things that I am trying to get on the page, and grasp the smoke that is inspiration. Having only that open road ahead of me - and no real threat of being taken out or arrested - is important. My neighbourhood is fairly safe, and I know enough of my neighbours to be aware of certain patterns and types of behaviour they engage in. All of this allows the mind to wander and grow.

Some of you have read my work about running and may wonder if it has the same effect on my writing as an occasional walk. I would have to say that they are two very different tools. A run in my neighbourhood is like letting a skin shed itself from my mind. Certain problems suddenly seem less important when I have taken my body as far as it can go on concrete, grass and the tracks I have discovered. It does not really develop an idea that I may not even be aware of. A walk is a form of focus; a way that allows me to take in the world around me and consider what I have ahead of me.

Runs purge; walks converge.

Yeah, it is pretentious when put on the page like that. But I have already written about the actual process of what my day is like when I am stuck within the four walls of my room. Everyone has to find their own way to the page, and I cannot fault anyone for their process. I even mentioned Murakami, and his daily runs (something that I could not possibly do, even when I was much younger). But I have never discussed the simple act of walking.

And if you do need a new hobby...

By Emma Frances Logan on Unsplash


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You can find more poems, stories, and articles by Kendall Defoe on my Vocal profile. I complain, argue, provoke and create...just like everybody else.

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About the Creator

Kendall Defoe

Teacher, reader, writer, dreamer... I am a college instructor who cannot stop letting his thoughts end up on the page.

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Comments (16)

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  • JBaz2 months ago

    Back to say congratulations

  • Christy Munson2 months ago

    My husband and I love walking together in the evenings. As the sun sets, we navigate the sidewalks of our neighborhood, getting to know the wide streets and hidden pathways in ways that are impossible with a car. We talk about everything on our walks. It's one of my favorite things. Your article reminds me of how much I love those date walks. Thank you!

  • Lacy Loar-Gruenler2 months ago

    This is charming, Kendall, with lots of wisdom without being preachy woven through it. That Stephen King Story has haunted me for years after reading it, too. You may doubt that you would be a writer, but I know you already are.

  • J2 months ago

    'Walking In This World' by Julia Cameron, one of her accompaniments to 'The Artist's Way', really drove this concept home for me. Sometimes the simplest way to solve an internal problem is to take it outside yourself. 'As above, so below' from the body to the soul, and vice versa.

  • Mark Gagnon2 months ago

    Running has never been my thing. I prefer weights. Walking I find a great escape from the world. No car, no way! I still miss racing but I'm just too damn old.

  • Purge & converge works for me. Walking is great, though I haven't done it much for over a year now.

  • Ayumi2 months ago

    I no longer run after I twisted my ankle a decade ago, but walk almost everyday. I believe movement is as important as the air we breathe, especially for our physical health. That includes our brain and it’s function. Healthy brain creates more easily and produce higher quality writing (or anything ) in my opinion. I also love your analysis of “Runs purge, Walks converge”.

  • Sonia Heidi Unruh2 months ago

    I like this so much!

  • JBaz2 months ago

    Walking is a great way to let your brain think. I do like your saying ‘ Runs purge; walks converge.’ Great article , the addition to Stephen kings the long walk fits perfectly

  • John Cox2 months ago

    Excellent and thought provoking essay. Although I have never read Stephen King, I love Murakami’s novels and stories. I stopped running twenty years ago, but your right, it was not a great activity for ruminating. Once my lungs fully expanded I entered a kind of zen or trance state. I have never used a walk for processing my thinking before. It probably does not help that I rarely walk alone. Maybe I need to give it a go.

  • Shirley Belk2 months ago

    Walking is freedom from the restraints of those walls and all the voices. It's been so cold and wet, so I haven't been able to, and I do feel a little crazy because of the restraint. Getting older means changing up a bit, so maybe think about that BEFORE you have to? Maybe something motorized?

  • Alex H Mittelman 2 months ago

    I love walking and love Stephen king books, I’m going to get the long walk right now! This was great! Thanks for writing 👽🤡😱😈👻🙀👹👺🫣

  • sleepy drafts2 months ago

    I like the distinction you make between how walking feels vs running. I like your saying, "Runs purge; walks converge." Wonderful insight, and very inspirational!

  • Oooo, I've never read any of Stephen King's books and The Long Walk sounds so intriguing! Also, I love this, "Runs purge; walk converge."

  • Randy Baker2 months ago

    For me, running requires too much thought about running. Walking, on the other hand, lets the mind wander, focus, or do whatever it is you need it to do.

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