The faster you move the longer you need to go

Strange how walking can be the solution and how how a higher speed can make the distance you have to travel so much longer

Walking and the paradox of speed

Text and drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt – Hiking.org

For a while I’ve been puzzled about the strange paradox of speed – The faster we move, the longer we need to go – walking is the best way to make sure you are close to what matters… or bring it with you

Hiking as closeness

When hiking you move about as slow as it is possible – simply by walking. For many non-hikers this is a puzzle – “why don’t they just drive?” is a question hikers often get. A car or flight can get you to the end of a long distance hike that takes months to walk of months.

But something is missing, you have a very different understanding of distance when hiking – and more important. You get a feeling of closeness with the journey in a very unique way. A closeness with the places and landscapes you walk through and closeness with the people you meet and share the journey with

The intimacy of walkable places 

It seems to me that when things are within walking distance they are in a natural distance – Driving or flying distance is ( depending on country and culture ) a lot longer. And it seems that in cultures and cities, and for people who do not own a car or can afford to fly – They start to appreciate and support local communities and shops much more

In neighborhoods where only few people own a car, most people shop in the local shops, know the people behind the counter, and often also work around the corner. Their kids walk to the local school and their friends live close by. 

People without cars learn to know and like their neighborhood and the options and locals who live there. And places with walking paths instead of roads supports thrive much better than those with cars and highways.

The fragmented reality of speed

In places where most drive, only few, if any local shops or local social life exist, people seldom know many of the locals, if any. Instead people drive much further than they would ever walk, to visit friends, to do their shopping or to go to work, and their kids often go to schools they can’t walk to, even if they wanted to. 

Walking creates places

When walking you relate to the places you visit – It might even be that walking is one of the best, and maybe only ways we can create places. Walking is the opposite of speed, walking connects us to the landscapes to create places where we are, so we don’t need to go far.

Hiker wondering "the faster you move the longer you need to go" drawing and thought by Frits Ahlefeldt
Walking is one of the best ways to relate to where we are, so we don’t need to go far

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