Searchers are optimists, and walkers are searchers. Are walkers optimists?
Well, I am. I wouldn’t say I was born that way. I recall a pessimistic teenage phase, coincident (or not?) with pounding headaches and an infatuation with William F. Buckley’s Firing Line. I walked away from it, and them, and from my initially-declared Poli Sci major, after my sophomore year in college. Thank goodness.
I know, there are and always have been pessimists who also walked. Schopenhauer springs instantly to mind. Nonetheless, every walk is an optimistic undertaking. And, I suspect, every self-avowed pessimistic walker is a closet optimist. Can’t prove it, but to paraphrase Camus: one must imagine daily walkers happy. More on that anon.
I discovered Walker Percy and his character Binx Bolling’s “search” in college. Percy saw the search as looking ultimately for a way out of this world, which he and his religious confreres viewed as “fallen” in its natural state. But reading his books, and then standing in his gazebo and surveying his “lost cove,” convinced me that his search was really for a way to love living.
I discovered a happy documentary worth sharing, last night:
Philosophical walkers are like John Francis: planet walkers. That’s another name for cosmopolitans, citizens of the globe and the universe who choose to accept responsibility for the whole. Every step symbolizes that choice, and that sense of a shared and universal identification with the natural world and all its lifeforms. In one of the stranger TED Talks on record, Francis declares “we are the environment, and how we treat each other is really how we’re going to treat the environment.” Similarly, he told the Atlantic,
The environment is therefore also about human rights, civil rights, gender equality, economic and education equity. It is about all the ways we relate to one another because how we relate to each other manifests itself in the physical environment around us.
That’s a way, Walker.