Walking, not running, is the antidote for our busy lives. Learning how to slow down can make us more observant and self-aware. Only when we quiet our minds, do we discover what we can do to simplify our lives.
Werner Herzog’s 515 Mile Trek
Werner Herzog is noted as a filmmaker in the emerging New German Cinema. Famous for such films as the Nosferatu remake (1979) and Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010), the man is also an advocate for walking. Having not owned a car, he walked everywhere.
His most notorious trek involved a three-month ordeal traveling from Munich to Paris through the deep chill of winter. In his diaries Of Walking in Ice, Herzog explains that in November of 1974 he learned of a close friend, Lotte H. Eisner, was ill and soon to die. Herzog chose to take a the longest method possible to reach his friend, because he knew that would prolong his life. Eisner wouldn’t dare expire before Herzog got there.
All throughout his life, Herzog expounded on the need to go slow. It was the only way to notice things. And for him, nature wasn’t some calm respite to soothe our souls, stating:
“Those who still hug the trees would speak of a universe in harmony. No, it is not. It is chaotic and murderous and not good to be out there.”
Yet he continued to walk.
Slow Down to See More
Look out the window of a speeding car and all you’re likely to see is a blur of road. Yet walk that same road and you can notice the weeds pushing up through the cracks in the pavement. You become more in tune with the present moment.
It’s our constant rushing through life, getting to the next appointment, beating the traffic light, that makes everything around us blend into a blur. You never have a moment to stop and think: is this the right path for my life?
Of course we can’t all take a few months off to wander through Europe like Mr. Herzog. But we can start in a more mindful state. Starting the morning slow can set the tenor for the rest of the day. Craft a routine that allows you some time to reflect and listen to your own needs. The demands of society can wait for a little bit.
Subtract Rather Than Add
Whenever we pack in preparation to move to a new place, we often think about what we need to take. It’s a natural time to shed off unused items and clutter. Each time you sit down to budget your finances, you often think about what expenses you can do without. It’s at those moments that you attempt to simplify your life.
Marie Kondo has built an entire mindset on the idea of decluttering. She developed the Konmari design principle that seeks to tidy your life and organize your home. Often this involved removing clothes and items. Subtracting to create a more simple life.
Old ideas can also hold you back and keep you from striving forward. Let go of the things that no longer help you. Concentrate on what really matters.
The world reveals itself to those who can slow down and reflect. Only then can you notice what’s truly important and worth keeping.