This was written as a bit for my nephew who is into comedy. Not sure that it works as a comedy bit, but I liked it enough to share. So here goes.
Everything has its own ecological niche. Each species interacts with its neighbors in a delicate interconnected web of relationships. The ant is specifically formed to be compatible with the tongue of the anteater. The honeybee is specifically designed to take advantage of horny flowers and start the sugar factory producing the *gold* of the natural world. Sweetness.
Ants ant, anteaters anteat, and bees… Well, bees bee. What about us people? Look around. Are we humaning right?
Our big brains, social tendencies and walking on two legs are our specialized equipment, like the ant’s antennae and the bees wings. So gathering in goodwill is fundamentally human. This week, you may look back on this moment – this moment without texting, without driving, without TV watching, scrolling, screening, screening, screening – and you can be assured that at you had at least some of the time this week engaged in deeply human activities.
AND WALK! Walking is another of the deep, human Good Stuff. Walk if you can. It’s fundamental to who we are and how our brains are structured. I mean, brains MUST be specifically formed to walk well and for that the be a source of health. JUST WALK.
Since I’m so good at giving advice, I’ll give you more.
Get a good backpack. Then you are really cooking! You can carry stuff around now. The backpack is an ancient technology and found across ancient cultures. I’m just making that up, but I bet its true. Anybody that has carried a gallon of milk six or seven blocks will sing the praises of the backpack. And nowadays you can get a REALLY good pack. There are materials to wick moisture away from your body, carry your laptop in a padded pouch. With great padded straps. And adjustable. Everything adjustable! So get a good backpack AND WALK! You can do it anywhere. Walk at the Museum of Life and Science. You can walk in the WallTown neighborhood of Durham where I live. You can walk in the woods of Person County outside of Roxboro, NC. You can even walk in Porbandar, a city in the state of Gujarat on the coast of India.
On Wikipedia’s Porbandar page there is a picture of a street that looks like a theater set for one of Shakespeare’s plays. Elizabethan style except in bright pink and yellow color. And the motorcycles and bikes and pedestrians. Echoes of the British empire, I guess.
Mahatma Gandhi used non-violent resistance to drive the British out of India after being there for 89 years. He was born in Porbandar, and was a big walker, too. He once walked 238 miles barefoot over 24 days. And this was across rural India in the 1930’s. Walking toppled the British Empire. Big brain, social nature, and walking on two legs. It works. It really does.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a picture of Gandhi with a backpack. Backpack is the original walking technology. Well, second. The first was probably a stick. I have a few sticks in my house. I trust a home with a stick or two. I think I’ll stop there and leave it at that.
I was going to end there. But then I thought of a funny observation that as soon as humans reached the pinnacle of backpacking technology and availability of new materials like goretex that made it possible to be outside in ANY weather, I started was in about the 7th grade. I thought it was really cool to wear the pack with only one strap. It was cool.
My mother had a basket that hung on the wall in the orange kitchen of my childhood home in Durham. The basket was made of a single piece of poplar bark. You can peel poplar bark off of a tree to make large flat panels and I’ve read it’s been used as a outer shell for wigwams. I’ve never done this but want to one day. I told you the basket was made of a single piece of poplar bark, but would you believe that it was shaped VERY similarly to the McDonald’s fries container? The view from above was a rough oval shape and the bottom was curved upwards in the middle. Imagine! McDonald’s is using neolithic design.
No hating here. “lf it’s good enough for the neolithic, it’s good enough for me”, I say. If you look to our past waaaaaaay back, you might look and see a small movement. You squint. Yes, now you see. Our distant ancestors waving their arms. As if to signal “STOP!” Wait. My bad. Wrong direction. We were looking towards the future.