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silhouette-of-man-walking-around-the-outside-of-the-worldThe ancient Greeks had a word that literally meant to walk around. But it meant more than that.

It was often used to talk about how one lives. In the ancient world, “walking around” was euphemistic for the places you went and the things you did. And as we all know, those places and things can be good or bad.

One of the best places I ever walked was in Paris, particularly at the Louvre.  My wife and I strolled though its long corridors looking at centuries worth of art.  We were told that one gallery was a quarter of a mile long, and I believed it because my feet hurt so badly.

One of the saddest places I’ve ever walked was the psych unit of Kentucky State Prison.  Men who had lost every shred of nobility, had drawn strange pictures, said odd and profane things, and behaved in even odder ways.  An inmate stuck his hand out of his cell to shake mine.  Wanting to be friendly I responded with my outstretched hand which was immediately pulled into the cell.  I jerked my hand back and was glad when I walked out of that unit and away from those people.

The scariest place I ever walked was in the New York subway late at night.  I had a suitcase and was making my way to Penn Station for a train to Philadelphia.  It felt like I had “Southern Tourist” stamped on my forehead.  I wished I could walk out to a brighter and safer place.

I admire people who walk to serve others by dishing up food in a soup kitchen or sorting clothes for a clothing pantry, or donating their services to those who can’t afford them.  Doctors without Borders is such a case.  Also Operation Smile which restores beauty and speech to children born with cleft palates.  That is walking of the most noble sort.

Sometimes “walk” refers more to the manner than the action.  So a person’s “walk” could be a reference to their commitment to certain ideas or a religious figure such as Jesus.  Walk can also be a reference to how one lives as a loving person or a spiritual person or a person who gives her/his life in sacrificial ways.

I especially like walking my Schnauzer, Bella.  She tugs at the leash when she sees a squirrel or a feral cat.  But mostly we just walk, enjoying the outdoors and greeting fellow walkers.  On the path you can see evidence of walkers who had mischief in mind as evidenced by their sidewalk tags.  But the nicest walk is taken for the benefit of others, be it your pet, spouse, child, or friend.

Because the best walk is a social walk.  One taken with and for others.  Now that’s walking.