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On the Connection Between Walking and Travelling

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Finding solutions through movement.

Nothing really beats the feeling of being a stranger in a strange place. It’s when simple tasks become suddenly immense achievements; when ordering precisely what you want from the dinner’s menu it’s a bit of a victory in itself; when at a slight jerk of the hand the elderly man down the street waves you back, as you were, after all, just one of them.

You are there even if it often feels like you shouldn’t. Extraordinarily inconvenient and unnecessary. But still, you are there. You have packed your bag and decided to throw all those solutions that have worked for a lifetime out of the window, willingly immersing yourself into a deep sense of discomfort, as if you were stepping into a pool of mud, taking a long breath and dive. You hold your breath; after all, what could one do when miles away from anything they know, surrounded by unfamiliar faces and unclear sounds?

Well, one can always walk.

If you were born very far from where you are supposed to be—to borrow Bob Dylan’s words—I’d say that all you need to do is walk.

Travelling and walking—or better, trekking—go hand-in-hand most times. Putting yourself through the endeavour of grinding miles while gaining altitude, going up in a shower of warm sweat, just to unpack your top and go straight back? It’s unreasonable at best, and a bit psychotic at worst. But we do it, just like we spend months, years or entire lifetimes alienated from all we know.

Walking and travelling are two sides of the same coin.

It’s actually while walking that I planned all my biggest trips. The physical motion accompanies the mind. It’s while walking that mind and body really work together, and at their best. In these circumstances I often feel in a state of flow, intended as that moment when you are fully focused on the task at hand, effortlessly filtering out everything else. If I’m walking, there’s no background noise, and my mind is free to wander in all the directions it prefers, with no limitations or distractions of sorts.

As absurd as it may sound, this process has much in common with more static experiences, such as spending hours waiting at the bus stop after losing a connection, or sitting in the corner of a suburban café after a full day of travelling. It's not a comparable physical movement, but it belongs to the same realm of movement state. The mind is once again left free and unjudged, flashed by the hundreds of new stimuli coming from every corner.

Walking and travelling are two sides of the same coin to me. There’s no trip where I don’t go hiking, and there’s no journey I take before mulling it over a hike. It’s how these things often begin in the first place—breaking distances makes us wanting to go further, just like when kids walk past the borders set by their parents, discovering entire worlds of adventure just beyond the underpass into the corn fields.

If Dylan’s music was about finding his way home, I think I wanna be on my way full stop. I don’t know if I was born far from where I’m supposed to be, but I’m enjoying the walk.

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Published in Volunteer Abroad Blogs
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Enrico Belcore

Enrico Belcore is a freelance writer, currently volunteering in the Portuguese Islands of the Azores. He deals with culture-related journalism, alternative lifestyles and travel. His work has been featured in Bridge, The Trip Magazine, Melograno and Fortelier.

Website: https://www.clippings.me/users/enricobelcore

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