Walk-talking, moving, and growing old(er)

What do Henry David Thoreau, a retired 85-year-old Maine pediatrician, a busy Tucson graphic artist and mother of a very busy three year old, an espresso-drinking theatre couple, and I have in common?

Walking. Up and down hills, mountains, along shore paths and urban nature trails, moving to make our brains and bodies work better, birthing new ideas — either in conversation or solo.


The magnificence of Mt. Desert Island

Yesterday I read “Walking,” a pamphlet by Henry David Thoreau. It was hot and humid in Central Maine where I’m visiting an old friend, and I walked my three miles before settling indoors.

“I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least — and it is commonly more than that — sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.” — Thoreau

I’m thinking about my Tucson walking pal who’s moving to the big city. I’m inspired by people at least 10 years older than I am who have taken up the walking habit for better health or because they ran marathons their entire lives and can’t stop.

Here, in this small Maine town, my author friend Margy Burns Knight encourages one and all to “play outdoors.” She taught us the basics of pickleball. We ate out at the Liberal Cup and Slates, two great restaurants in hip and historic Hallowell.

I hadn’t spent much time here before, and I’ve so enjoyed swimming — actually lolling about — in Central Maine’s velvet lakes. And we walked.

Today, especially, I’m thinking of an old friend whose dear 99-year-old father died yesterday. She’s the most consistent walker I know; for her walking has provided prayer, therapy, solace, and happiness.


By Georgia O’Keefe, Colby College Museum of Art

This past week I’ve heard about a seeming onslaught of illnesses and mishaps: concussions, cancer, extreme fatigue for no apparent reason, heart attacks, Alzheimer’s, seizures. I and all my friends are getting old(er).

Still, walking uplifts me. Life is about living — moving — no matter what.


Resting by the Kennebec River in Hallowell, Maine


This entry was posted in Baby Boomers, Fight wimpiness, Journalism/Writing, Mount Desert Island/Maine, Nature Girl, Old friends and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Walk-talking, moving, and growing old(er)

  1. Kate says:

    Another beautiful reflection, Sheila. I too am in Maine enjoying long walks and the liquid magic of lake swimming. I’m in Liberty, Maine visiting a good friend. How far away are you???

    • sheilawill says:

      I’m glad you’re here, Kate! Comon’ over to SWHarbor for an overnight if we can work it out…lots of packing, organizing to do, but we’re here till Aug. 19.

  2. judith cox says:

    As always thanks for your careful and thoughtful writing Sheila. This resonates with me and I’m committed to keeping moving for similar reasons. (Thoreau:)) I do it for the meditative aspect and to “care for the body and spirit joyfully while in this life”—-avoiding any sense of magically staving off what my/could come…..that could muddy the waters. Martha is a perfect example of both her commitment to and reasons for “the walk”. xo See you soon~

  3. sheilawill says:

    Thanks Judith…walking does so much for our good health, physically, neurobiologically, and meditatively! Yes, see you later this week; we just got back to SWH!

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