Anchorage: Walking

And so there is walking. Always the walking–part of my daily movement, part of my daily practice as a writer, part of my thinking process. Sometimes it’s peaceful and wandering. Other times it’s cardiovascular or goal-oriented. Still other times it’s a problem-solver walk–my mind working to the pace of my boots or vice-versa, going and going until I’ve figured something out. My last trip to Anchorage, I walked so far I ended up in another town. My, that was a good one.

Wintertime, there may be days when it’s harder to persuade myself into the cold than others, but if that’s the case there are just as many days when I know the views will pay off. The day I took this particular photo, “The Mountain” was out, as they say here, meaning that it was clear enough in Anchorage to see 200 miles north where Denali/Mt. McKinley cuts into the skyline. This photo isn’t of The Mountain, it’s of the Chugach looking across ice floes on Cook Inlet. These fellas might not be chart-toppers in terms of elevation, but in my book they’re just as breathtaking.
This is not a new notion for writers. A quick Google search of “walking as writing” brings up 463 million sites I could peruse (if I wouldn’t rather be, uh, outside walking). Annie Dillard writes about her many walks in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and marks an especially poignant moment in her essay “The Weasel.” If the body is moving, the mind is moving. It makes so much sense, and yet we hunker down into our chairs, let our eyes bore into our laptops with fingers glued to the keys, and we tunnel. That act is good, too, but narrowing the focus gets tricky because it can leave writers vulnerable to blind spots. If we’re looking really hard at one thing, what, exactly, are we failing to see in the mean time?
If we can’t come up with an answer, chances are it’s time to get perspective and take a walk.

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