"Walking is the great adventure, the first meditation, a practice of heartiness and soul primary to humankind. Walking is the exact balance between spirit and humility."
— Gary Snyder in The Practice of the Wild
Meet Matt Green, a civil engineer who left his job in order take on the quest of walking across the United States from Rockaway Beach, New York, to Rockaway Beach, Oregon. The journey took five months and covered 3,100 miles.
His latest jaunt, chronicled in this fascinating documentary by Jeremy Workman, is walking every block and park and bridge in New York City's five boroughs. This zealous young man has no place of his own. To get by he regularly crashes on the couches of friends; sometimes he earns the $15 a day he needs by walking dogs.
Green has a jolly time walking the streets of New York and since he is an extrovert, he spends plenty of time talking with strangers about his experiences. He's in good company when he relishes the rewards of walking:
"Walking is an essential discipline of thought and spirit. My soul is a traveler afoot in this world. Like Aristotle (whose school was called Peripatetic, after the covered walkway along which he strolled while teaching), I cannot think clearly if I remain too long sedentary."
— Sam Keen in Hymns to an Unknown God
"As we stretch our legs, we stretch our minds and our souls. St. Augustine, himself a great walker, remarked, 'Solvitur ambulando; it is solved by walking.' "
— Julie Cameron in Walking in This World
"Walking, much like singing, steadies the mind. When we place one foot in front of the other, we can feel the body lean and sway as we move forward. The first steps may be slow, but gradually we find our gait. Though we may require effort to break our inertia, our willingness to move is soon requited. At first, we notice the mind doing the walking. Then the body soon takes over, and with that, our thoughts are free to flow."
— Steven Levine in Unattended Sorrow
A few of Green's favorite subjects to talk about include "churchogogues" (former synagogues which have been converted into churches), barber shop signs spelled with Z's, memorials, community gardens, the location of Malcolm X's assassination, and the grave sites of Houdini and salsa queen Celia Cruz. One of his girlfriends points out that they broke up on account of his passion for his walking projects.
Green comes across as a spiritual connoisseur of the city by repeatedly
taking note of little things and by keeping his senses on the alert for fresh discoveries of beauty and wonder.