Walking is… giving

By Street Wisdom

Something I love about Street Wisdom is the spirit of generosity at its heart.

It’s free. No-one’s paying and no-one’s getting paid. Participants are invited to “pay attention”, not fees, but even attention here is less about paying something and more about giving everything.

Before Christmas I was inspired by the story of the person who gave their mother 60 walks for her 60th birthday. More recently I’ve loved discovering Professor Dee Heddon’s 40 Walks project, where she invited 40 friends to give her walks around the time of her 40th birthday.

We often talk about “taking a walk”, so what happens when we give one?

Alongside my Street Wisdoms, I’m doing a project involving “giving” walks to friends, family and others on my path. And of course the joke here is: no-one can “give a walk” any more than anyone else can; or, to put it slightly differently, everyone is a gift-giver when it comes to walking in this intentional way.

I’m finding it’s a really beautiful way to spend quality time with people I love.

In my most recently gifted walk, my friend and I invented a new game: Path The Parcel. It’s like Pass The Parcel, of course, only the path is the parcel you keep unravelling. One of you sings (it doesn’t matter what or how badly!) as you both walk, stopping suddenly before the other person looks around to spot the gift of that moment. We had all kinds of gifts on our path: a chopped down tree, a poster about “Upcoming Walks”, a beautiful dog in a coat.

Our walk often had quite in-depth moments – we covered death and grief, childlessness and children, the wisdom of nature, how to stop hiding and start connecting to our direction in life – but we also fell about laughing, met a fair number of strangers (and semi-strangers), and drank hot chai tea along the way.

When you walk with the intention of giving and gathering gifts, the path opens up in new and wonderful ways. For me it gets to the heart of Street Wisdom. Take that last hour of the workshop, for example. It’s that moment when participants sit around and share their stories from their quests. They’re expecting nothing in return, and giving each other everything.