solvitur ambulando – a walking cure

Many problems are solved by walking. Mulling things over and walking proves more helpful than simply mulling things over. Perhaps the rhythm of steps, the rhythm of the body moving outdoors facilitates the thinking process. I’m not sure, but I think the Romans were on to something with their phrase solvitur ambulando. It is solved by walking.  Bruce Chatwin ‘passionately believed that walking constituted the sovereign remedy for every mental travail’ learned it from Patrick Leigh Fermor and immediately wrote it down in his Moleskine notebook and used it in The Songlines (1986).  It has occurred to many other writers to do the same and to medics.

Walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela is recommended to veterans with post traumatic stress. I’d certainly second that. Not that I’m a veteran or had PT stress but, at a time when life in general felt beyond endurance, the idea of walking the Camino suggested itself. Some could say it was a miracle, at least serendipity, that a pamphlet I’d kept and treasured about the Camino for thirty years filtered it’s way to the top. It was also symptomatic of the malaise of my life then – i.e. not getting round to things I wanted to do.

It occurs to me now that it may also convey a meaning of walking away. It is solved by walking away. 


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