I have taken your words on attending into the elementary art room this year. I structured the projects around teaching the children to see. I use their art as the measure of how this is coming along. They must do more than glance to draw well, they must learn how to attend to the subject and really see it, in order to draw it well. I started choosing nature subjects to show them the things that they could go and see if they took a walk in our area. Birds, plants, and edible things. We slowed down and when they begged for more time on a project I tried to always say yes. As they took more time their work improved so significantly that they quickly as a group exceeding all my expectations. They grew so much in confidence and in competence that the entire classroom experience was transformed. They desired to improve, became very teachable, encouraging to each other and enthusiastic. So thank you for a great year in art and teaching this teacher how to better teach.

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This is what schools should be doing, training perception. Bravo!

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Simone Weil described education as learning to pay proper attention to whatever one is engaged in.

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I recently walked the Camino (last autumn) to help myself recover from some burnout and vicarious trauma resulting from a career in social work working with many abused children. It’s hard to describe how wonderful and healing it was to only walk every single day and how much my mind was shaped by the encounters I made with other pilgrims and with the natural world in rural Spain. I also experienced a miracle on The Way that left me renewed and vivified, where once I was sorrowful and broken.

What I found was that the reasons that most people walk the Camino now are different from the original medieval pilgrims (much less religious for one thing) but every person I met was trying to engage with deep problems—breakups and divorces, lost jobs, empty nests, retirement, the unfulfilled longing for children… Even if the stated issue wasn’t spiritual on the face of it, we are still spiritual animals and walking seemed to bring all of this out of people. I will be forever grateful for my pilgrimage and the hand of God guiding me through it and helping me find a way out of the pain I had gone through.

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Thank you for this post - it led me to subscribe! Two points really rang true to me:

1) Walking: I am a writer and walk 5 - 7 miles a day. The other day it became clear to me that the thoughts I have while sitting get refined by thinking, as if my subconscious finally gets the chance to work on them. The walking - refined thoughts are closer to the truth.

2) Pilgrim: I have been traveling as slow as I possibly can, spending months at a time in a place, and have found that these places have definitely changed me: with language, with food, with a better understanding of history. Traveling slow is a prayer, asking the universe to remake one's body and mind.

Thank you again for your newsletter. I've been reading it a while - but this post hit me in my heart, not just in my mind.

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Thanks to having survived a compound leg fracture (car-bicycle collision) forty years ago, walking is something I still need to measure out, and a long trek would be a good deal longer than before that. However: It's been ten years ago that I set out on pilgrimage, solo and unsupported, to cross the country by bicycle, from the mouth of Columbia in Oregon to the mouth of the James in Virginia. It took two separate efforts, but it saved my life, even if it was at 11 miles per hour (almost four times biblical speed). The vulnerability. The kindness and extension of strangers. The slowing the heck down. The quieting. There were many, many folks I met along the way doing the same thing (see the on-line journal site CrazyGuyOnaBike). I still get around predominantly by bicycle, and it is liberating. Thanks for this reflection, and for the additional readings.

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Synchronistically, I have just started reading The Way of the Pilgrim, recommended by Paul Kingsnorth in his Abbey of Misrule (my only other paid Substack subscription). The Pilgrim walks everywhere and cheerfully refers to somewhere 100 versts away (about 100 kilometres) as if it was just down the road.

Sadly I have developed a very painful arthritic right ankle so walking any distance has become quite difficult. I do like the idea that the mind works at 3 mph.

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Might I recommend the wonderful, "A Philosophy of Walking" by Frederic Gros. If you like walking, as I do, you'll appreciate this book.

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Really enjoyed this post. Thank you!

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Also, on Monday I drove my family from the city to a small town not too far away along an arterial road. We looked for walkers and noted how the very few we saw looked like the wretched of the earth from the car.

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Interested in your thoughts, as an old man, about an old man walking in a crowd. I see the same thing from a bicycle saddle, and it has occurred to me that those for whom the world has 'denied the privilege' of an automobile, and perhaps with even a hint of grace, can see The World in a more comprehensive light. Like Wendell Berry, still plowing his 40 acres with mules.. But maybe that's more likely for the person with sufficient privilege that they can 'choose' to not partake of the "luxury' of transport by automobile.

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[For Susan Westbrook]

I walk on doctor's orders every other day

I walk the Crabtree Valley Mall

Lungs stiff

Legs rusted cables.

Here under the skylight

I practice to be

A king in the field

Every other day.

A king does not trudge he does not shuffle

Sunk in his own thoughts

Neither does he pursue a goal

Jaw set

A to B and out.

A king glides

Foot sure of the ground

Lift off touch down

Lightly on the buoyant surface


He looks each one he passes in the face

An invitation.

From behind a line of shoppers

Blocking the lane

Slow like a school of oblivious fish

He tempers his pace

Does not crowd

Waits for a natural opening

Slips by without disturbance.

Most do not notice

The easy look in the face

Others look away

No matter

His invitation stands.

Yet a few others meet his glance

A slight nod of recognition

They pass queens and kings of the field.

Many say these consumers are zombies

Not in control under a spell

In each face

He sees that is not so

The lame the sprightly

The burdened the veiled

Traveling the gaps in colors

All are vital

Walking the Crabtree Valley Mall

Among the bright sprays of children

The more likely to return his look.

Walk ending

Unstiffened shed of rust



The skylight asks

Isn't this king you practice

A made up character?

No doctor's orders

Yes always make it up.

The skylight blesses and invites

Take it out from this cathedral

The Crabtree Valley Mall

You there

Take it away and walk it.

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"Most do not notice

The easy look in the face

Others look away"

The tiny tragedies of the 'not noticings'. Thanks for this. I'm trying, gently, to more frequently engage those trapped in themselves.

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“ He looks each one he passes in the face… An Invitation,” oh how this moved me! Only at a walking pace can we truly take in another and invite a conversation or simply an acknowledgment or recognition without words. Perhaps walking will heal us…

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Flood-tide below me! I see you face to face!

Clouds of the west—sun there half an hour high—I see you also face to face.

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, Walt Whitman

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I ended up reading or at least referencing, what was it....four other articles? To get through this one? A meandering path to thoroughly savor a post about the act that allows one to meander at all.

Thanks for leading the way. I'll have to do it again sometime.

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I recently wrote an old man's poem about walking in a crowd.

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“Going for a walk to see what one can see rather than merely to get somewhere is the first step in the education of a naturalist.”

Joseph Wood Krutch “Miracles to Show Your Child” If you don't mind my saying so ... Essays on man and nature p.327.

I love the title of this chapter.

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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a common therapy methold that essentially helps peopel process trauma while moving the left and right side of their bodies, by eye movement or tapping each schoulder, or similar. I've often thought that walking while processing trauma with a counselee would be similarly useful. It's a very self-important and long name for a practice that amounts to bilateral movement- like walking.

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