Independence Day has got me thinking about freedom and well, independence.
What does it mean to be free? Now that’s a loaded question (especially these days.)
No sooner than I decided to ponder freedom, I stumbled upon a podcast: 99% Invisible, The Right to Roam, definitely worth a listen. Roam meaning to walk and all of a sudden I started thinking walking serves as a perfect metaphor for freedom.
The podcast episode is about a group of factory workers in Manchester England around 1930 who craves to be out in nature after working all day in the poor, polluted working conditions of the factory. They were no public parks and it was against the law to walk on other people‘s property. At one point in England’s history it was punishable by death if you were caught trespassing! The workers decided to go on group walks on the private property– this way it would be harder for the authorities to stop them. Eventually, their efforts caused a law to come about allowing people the right to roam.
THE RIGHT TO ROAM! I can't get enough of that.
While the walkers roamed and rambled they sang songs. This line is from their anthem, The Rambler:
"I’m a Rambler, I’m a Rambler, from Manchester way, I get all my pleasure the hard moorland way. I may be a wage slave on Monday, but I have my freedom on Sunday."I quite like this and all this walk talk has got me thinking of one of the pure joys of my childhood: cutting through someone’s yard— shortcuts!
While cutting through, I loved the vantage point of seeing what can't be seen from the street and most importantly finding the shortest route! Gaining me more time to do what I wanted when I finally got “to there“. I recently learned many parts of Europe have similar laws to England and nurture the culture of roaming, but the most endearing is Scotland – where many landowners that allow the right to roam actually take care to maintain outbuildings on their properties so travelers may stay in if they like. This humble building is called a bothy (I just started following #bothy on Instagram)
I’ve walked quite a bit at different points in my life for different reasons. For me, it really is a way to make sense of it all.
Some of the memorable walks in my life:
- the many walks home from school spent with my friends singing and laughing
- the walk my husband and I took up to the castle at Sleeping Giant after we got married
- the walk I took to get my labor started
- the super long walks after dinner with my husband and (at the time) baby daughter.
- walking up the steep hill by my house and pausing at the top to look out over what I just conquered.
- the walks I would take to and from work —those were good days
- the walks I take looking for inspiration for my drawings
I haven't been on many walks in recent days, although yesterday we took the dog for a walk and ran into some neighbors and had a nice chat. The more I think about it, the more I see the freedom in walking and more walking I should definitely be doing!
It's what walking does to my mind- creates space and chance.
What is walk you've been on that you'll never forget? Better yet! What creates space and chance for you?
Can't wait to hear!
P.S. one more thought on walking
“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.” from Thoreau's essay on Walking