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You Should Take More Aimless Walks

When walking becomes the destination itself

Jen Gippel PhD
Human Parts
Published in
4 min readMay 5, 2021

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Photo: Jad Limcaco/Unsplash

To the uninitiated, walking is just putting one foot in front of the other. When the destination is the goal, walking is indeed a slow approach and sometimes considered a waste of time. Walking can also be interpreted purely as a form of exercise without the walker having any other expectation.

But “going for a walk” evokes something quite different from “walking.” In “going for a walk” neither destination nor effort need be the prime motivators. Instead, when “going for a walk,” whether it be in the city or country, one takes a voyage into the self that lets the mind wander and rest. In this sense, walking itself becomes a place, and for those in the know, it’s deeply cathartic.

Walking has been my passion from childhood to my adult years. Sometimes I walk for exercise, sometimes to get someplace, but the most cathartic walks have been the walks for the sake of walking. These walks have lasted hours, days, even weeks across England, Europe, America, Australia, and New Zealand. On every occasion, these lengthy walks turned into a voyage of self-discovery, a retreat from the chaos of life.

In our constant struggle to get more done, where time is precious, walking even to get somewhere is often avoided. Making the decision to “go for a walk” is a deliberate way to take time out, slow down, get out, and appreciate what you see. In walking there is peace.

Walking through ‘hidden’ doorways

To the converted, “going for a walk” is a voyage, akin to opening a secret door and carving a path through the terrain of one’s imagination. In walking just for the sake of walking, we can use all of our senses to notice the contours of our surroundings — the shapes, the smells, and the feel of things. At a walker’s pace, we can truly appreciate what we sense and absorb the beauty of what we usually don’t notice. If we let ourselves be part of the landscape, we…

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Jen Gippel PhD
Human Parts

Ph.D. Finance, MSc Creativity Studies | Combining science and personal experience I write about Aging, Creativity, and Life.