This post is dedicated to Escapologist of distinction Drew Gagne who is walking the Camino Santiago. Gagne taught me the term Solvitur Ambulando, which means “it is solved by walking”.
For almost three months, I’ve been prevented from walking everywhere by the ferocious Quebec winter. If that sounds sissy or uncommitted, you should know that we’re talking about snow up to the knees, torrents of slippery grey slush, pavements like frosted glass, and temperatures as low as -40°C (though -15 is more typical). Here’s the view from my balcony.
It’s not impossible to walk through this and it can be fun to do so on occasion, but when your daily routine includes two 45-minute walks, such oppressive conditions cease to be entertaining very quickly.
So I started travelling by bus. It will come as no surprise to anyone that I’m not hugely fond of a rush hour bus. It may offer protection from the elements, but it’s crowded and lurching and it frequently smells like farts.
For a fortnight now, the bus has been particularly bad. Several times, it has simply failed to arrive at all and I’ve resorted to splitting taxi cabs with other commuters after waiting in the cold for half an hour. Did I mention it’s -15°C on a good day?
So I’ve taken matters into my own hands this week and started walking again in spite of the winter. It’s no picnic, but at least I can stay relatively warm when walking, compared to standing still at a bus stop.
It’s also an opportunity to try some black-belt Stoicism. I just try to remember that my internal self cannot be pelted with ice. Only my outer shell is vulnerable.
The return to regular walking has been tough but rewarding. I feel strong and vital! The physical exercise doubtless helps, but it’s also the solitude and the time to think and the sense of being connected to the world instead of just crammed into the same cattle truck again and again, never really seeing anything.
Try it yourself. Damn the elements. Go for a walk. Solvitur Ambulando.
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