Being Where You Are Not!

The following is from an article in Brainpickings titled: The Spirit of Sauntering: Thoreau on the Art of Walking and the Perils of a Sedentary Lifestyle. How familiar these words below are. How good to hear Thoreau all those many years ago contemplating the simple act of going for walks and the practice of being where one is and not somewhere else.

I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit. In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to Society. But it sometimes happens that I cannot easily shake off the village. The thought of some work will run in my head and I am not where my body is — I am out of my senses. In my walks I would fain return to my senses. What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?

Walking by Henry David Thoreau Free for Kindle users on

And here a contemplation sauntering.

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks — who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre, to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.

Saunter, without land or a home, equally at home everywhere. Let’s saunter!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

3 thoughts on “Being Where You Are Not!”

  1. Oh yeh! I want to saunter. Count me in. What a brilliant snippet of information. Thank you. Got to go now, busy sauntering. :)

  2. Hi Rev. Mugo;
    Well, this certainly resonates. One tip for successful winter sauntering: a thermos of tea and places to sit and look at stuff.
    Well, stillness too right? (the point of it all… :))
    In gassho;

    1. I’ll have to remember the tea when I am out and about on Vancouver Island. Won’t be long before I’m back in Canada. YES! There generally seems to be a convenient log or rock to sit on. Nothing too very comfortable though – need to keep moving on. Sitting still while walking!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.