I hope you had a wonderful weekend! When I should have been writing sheaf after sheaf for you, I confess: I was out walking in a gorgeous arboretum. UC Davis has had its 100-acre arboretum since 1936, and it’s a jewel, filled with squirrels, turtles, bluejays and waterfowl, eucalyptus and redwood, and all manner of foliage from East Asia to Mexico.
Walking along the packed dirt under the redwoods, I felt like Alice in her wonderland. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of fantastical flowers, magical species nameplates (Carolina moonseed!), and fuzzy sunlit ducklings. Let me tell you something: this walk wasn’t out of chance. This was a calculated move at getting my brain to release the white-knuckle grip its had on reality and practicality. In some ways, I’ve been feeling all to much down to earth—not in the wonderful, miraculous sense of noticing how much a flower bud has broken its seal, but in that grubby sense, where nickels and dimes seem to jingle in your head and paper becomes all edges and no magical white sheen.
It’s no secret that writers from time immemorial have turned to the methodical practice of placing one foot in front of the other, and it’s no wonder! Studies now show that walking can increase creativity. Why? As the New Yorker says:
Because we don’t have to devote much conscious effort to the act of walking, our attention is free to wander—to overlay the world before us with a parade of images from the mind’s theatre.
While I’m unable to speak to the scientific explanations of how walking boosts creativity, I can tell you that after this weekend’s two-hour jaunt I’ll be working on ways to incorporate more nature walking into my creative routine.
Extras for experts: