Walking for the Mind

At work, I’m a pacer.  Between work tasks, I get up and walk around.  It helps clear my mind, it helps transition my mind from one task to the next, and it helps me think.

Aparently this is not a unique exercise.  According to Walter Isaacson in the Introduction to his recent biography of Steve Jobs, Jobs sometimes liked to walk as he conversed:

. . . We talked a bit about the Aspen Institute, which I had recently joined, and I invited him to speak at our summer campus in Colorado.  He’d be happy to come, he said, but not to be onstage.  He wanted instead to take a walk so that we could talk.

That seemed a bit odd.  I didn’t yet know that taking a long walk was his preferred way to have a serious conversation. . .

Longer walks can also be helpful.  Time magazine (21 Nov 2011) published a short interview with Werner Herzog, the German movie director.  One of the Q&As is enlightening:

Q:  In addition to being a feature-film director and documentarian, you seem to have become an amazing interviewer.

A:  I’m not an interviewer.  I have conversations.  And I know the heart of men.  I know it because I had fundamental experiences like traveling on foot.  The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot.  I’ve walked from Munich to Paris, but I’ve also done longer walks.  You’re unprotected and have to talk to people to ask them to fill you canteen because there’s no creek for dozens of miles.  You really learn what men are all about.

I also enjoy long walks.  And while I don’t always like Herzog’s documentaries and movies, he is right about the wonders of hiking.

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