Ways of Walking


As I walk in my neighborhood, and observe others who walk, I’ve noticed there are at least four different postures people have when they walk. I know there are more, but these four seem to be the majority.

There are those who sit slightly back on their heels. The torso is straight but their center of gravity lies slightly behind. I often wonder how they achieve this posture while moving forward. But there it is. Some folks are perfectly in line, with their center of gravity being directly over the upside down V of their legs as they walk. Spine erect. Head tall. Arms straight. Other walkers lean slightly forward, almost as if pushing against a wind that isn’t there. Face and chin leads the way with arms pumping, propelling their body forward. And finally, there are a few whose hips are thrust forward but their shoulders and head are back. It seems as if they just rose out of an armchair and stayed in that position to walk.

I’ve often wondered, if I could interview each walker, whether their lives would reflect the posture they assume while walking. Would those who sit slightly back on their heels have a way of moving through life, definitely going forward, but on their own terms, feeling no need to keep up with the rat race? Would those who are perfectly centered in their walk also be centered and balanced in their life? Work and leisure have an even symmetry to their days, confidence and assurance describes most everything they do? Do the forward leaning walkers have a need to move with purpose as if they know where they are going and how they’re going to get there? Would the “armchair” walkers enjoy much of their life in an armchair, preferring reading to gardening, or watching TV to doing housework?

I fear that I fall into the jaunty, forward-moving-walker category. I have seen this in my shadow as I walk on sunny days. I even had a neighbor and fellow walker, just last week, say to me in his lovely Russian accent, “you exhibit a lot of energy when you walk!”  Ah ha. Well, yes, I suppose I do. And if I’m ever successful in convincing my husband to go walk with me, he is typically having to take my hand and say, “Saunter, Jen…let’s just saunter.”

It does cause me to pause and take stock of my life and how I’m living it. Am I moving through life with a desperate need to know the direction I’m headed and how I’m going to get there? Is there room for walking through life without having to keep up with the rat race? Is it possible to walk centered and balanced even if life is not? And could I have an attitude of “armchair leisure” about certain things I tend to hold a tight grip on?

These are just a few of the thoughts that go racing through my head as I walk. I do try to slow down a bit in the last half mile of my walk, just to remind myself what it’s like to saunter.  A year ago I couldn’t even walk at this time of year nor for quite a while after returning home from major surgery. So it feels good to be able to set my face and chin to the sun, swing my arms and GO!

0 thoughts on “Ways of Walking

  1. freebirdsings says:

    I don’t go for walks as often as I should because when I do I take three dogs with me. Two are small but one is huge and very strong (yes, she should be better trained but for 10 years she had the run of the AZ desert) so I walk pulling back like number four but otherwise I am being propelled forward like number three until we’ve walked 3/4 of a mile. Then we even out a bit like number 2! I guess for me, it depends on when you catch me on my walk but my actual preference is number 2 except I look down a lot simply because I fall over my own feet if nothing else! (I also don’t try to slow my big girl too much because she needs the exercise too)!

  2. words4jp says:

    great piece – as a former ballet dancer, i have always watched people walk. not to be judgmental, but to look at posture. i know, sounds very odd – this is what over 20 years of dancing does to a person!

    • jenpedwards says:

      Not odd at all! I love people watching, whether they are walking or sitting or talking or whatever! Great for figure drawing and capturing their gestures! Have a lovely day!

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