Most of the time I’m lucky enough to be fit, healthy and full of energy. But this year, I’ve faced a few health challenges – my own and those of my loved ones. We live in Italy and this has meant several trips back to the UK for treatment. Thankfully we are all fine, but it’s been pretty challenging. The upside is that I’ve had more time. I’ve been forced to press pause on our busy family life and I’ve been able to read more and to think.
A couple of weeks ago I had several hours in an airport and after coffee I naturally drifted to the book store. A man in front of me was browsing the business section and put down a book. Curious, I picked it up; ‘Thrive’ by Arianna Huffington. I groaned inwardly as I’d heard of it and wondered if it would bear any resemblance to the hype or spell out the obvious. At the time I was grudgingly nursing a newly broken shoulder and my subconscious was clearly saying something, so I bought it. To be honest, in places it does tell you what you know – disconnect your devices, meditate, learn new things and so on. But like all these ‘self-help’ books, though you’ve probably worked out the ideas before, somehow the it takes facts in bold print for you really listen. And it turns out that one of the things she advocates for us to ‘thrive’, is walking.
Walking for better health and mental clarity is nothing new but Arianna sets it in historical context from all sorts of perspectives. It’s been a tonic for thinkers throughout the ages and integral to the work of some of our greatest public figures. Big business is starting to incorporate ‘walking meetings’. It helps us to process information, to generate ideas, to connect with nature, to develop our spirituality and to relax.
In fact, when I finally made it home to Italy, the very next day I got out a map of Campania, found a new walk and got my husband to drive me an hour into the wilderness. I spent a blissful hour tiptoeing carefully along a track by the Volturno River, warmed by dappled Autumn sunshine and soaking up the views of the Matese mountains. Yes, it was a little crazy (sorry to my lovely doctors and
concerned unsurprised friends) but it was better than any pain killer and lifted my spirits no end.
The funny thing is, I hadn’t even read the book at that point, so it made me smile to come across this chapter a week later.
It seems Diogenes was right, Solvitur ambulando – ‘it is solved by walking’.
Read the Chapter from Thrive here: Hemingway, Thoreau, Jefferson and the Virtues of a Good Long Walk by Arianna Huffington