Through the good times and bad. Heartbreak, hangovers, lunch breaks and lazy Sunday afternoons there are a few past times which never fail to pass the time. There’s reading, talking to good friends, gardening, drinking beer. But sometimes you can’t find a good book to read. Sometimes your friends are jerks. Sometimes its winter. And sometimes your drinking habit has spiraled into full blown alcoholism. Which is why I have another hobby to help get me through these troubled times: recreational walking.
So I’ve decided to write a column about the growing recreational walking phenomenon, otherwise known as rec walking, or “ralking” depending on one’s regional vernacular (I’ll be referring to it as RW for the remainder of the article for the sake of brevity.) Simply put, RW is “the activity of walking done for the sake of enjoyment.” Which is pretty vague, so I’ll expand on what specifically makes RW what it is to me.
I should begin by clarifying that RW is not a sport. There aren’t opponents, no goals are ever achieved, nor are there any prizes at the end. So despite its glamorous, albeit tragically brief, history, competitive pedestrianism is not RW. Now don’t get me wrong, I love that old episode of Malcom in the Middle where Hal competes in walk racing, but it’s still not RW. For it is the peace of mind, the tranquillité d’esprit, so to speak, that is the true aim of RW.
Further more, it should be noted that for the most part RW is a solitary endeavor. Which I would like to point out that most of history’s great walkers traveled alone in their perambulations: Thoreau, Dickens, Woolf. Heck, that wacky Voltaire claimed to have walked 25 miles a day. Although he also outlandishly claimed to have downed 50 cups of coffee a day too, and I’m pretty sure that would have killed him. So who knows? The point is, RW is all about closing oneself off from social engagements. Which might make RW sound like its a hobby reserved for the introverted. And while RW may be best enjoyed in a state of Romantic brooding and rumination, the hobby truly is for anyone willing to set aside the distractions of the day and hit the sidewalk.
As far as where one RWs, it’s pretty open ended. Personally I don’t consider trails as being RW material (e.g. The Monon Tail), the same goes for parks. As something of a RW purist, I like to restrict my ramblings to sidewalks.
But of course this all just my opinion. You can do whatever the hell you want. But don’t forget to check back in to Trndy Indy for more Solvitur Ambulando: A Recreational Walker’s Guide to Indianapolis as I ramble from neighborhood to neighborhood exploring the city’s cultural heritage, trees and flora, history, and architecture.
Written by: Kevin Schmoll