Saturday, April 6, 2013

{family lab} walk to explore

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.
                       ~ John Muir

We like to walk.

And look.

From the time my kids were babies we tried to take a walk most days. As the kids are getting older, and have higher stamina, I have realized how essential the habit is. Not only does it diffuse physical energy like mad, but it loosens and frees their minds.

As soon as we start walking, whether in our neighborhood or in the woods, they start talking and talking.

The most amazing realizations, confessions and connections bubble up. 

Then they start planning and scheming and wondering. It really is amazing. At the same time their thoughts are expanding and taking in everything around them, they will also hyper focus and notice the smallest and most profound things, like an ant trying to carry something that is so much larger than itself, or a bit of paper that has fallen from someone's pocket and is laying on the side of the road barely lifting in the wind.

They are like a snowball, gathering detritus and momentum as they go. The power of this holistic practice has ensured that it has become one of the pillars of each day.
 




Today we are thinking about walking and looking.

Sit in a chair in your living room or bedroom and write down every single thing you can see for 10 minutes.
Does just noticing your environment change your experience of it? If so, how?

Invite your children to do this prompt with you if you think they might be interested. Many times, I will just sit down and start working on a project and then my kids become intrigued and want to play along.





This afternoon or evening, take your family for "looking" walk.

Decide what sort of treasure hunt you will do (texturecolor, flower, dog, anything...) and decide how you will document it (photos, collecting bits, drawing).

The intention of this exercise is to look deeper and pay attention to details. Yes, there is a hunt going on, but if you keep the mood relaxed and low key, so many other things will be noticed.

As soon as we start walking our minds loosen and we begin to talk and make connections. While some kids might grumble at the mention of a walk,  as soon as we are out the door, resistance melts away and camaraderie reigns. 

The hunt is just the means or reason for the walk. You can look for anything you want - and do not underestimate an older child's interest in this sort of project- as my kids get older they just become more sophisticated in their hunts.

As I mentioned in the welcome letter, approach this project with a collaborative intent Tharp writes about. Maybe a kid wants to decide what to look for or how the walk should be recorded. Also, this is not an excersie to do once and check off a list, it really can become an essential family practice. The power of walking, strolling, ambling together a a family can be transformative.

And I am always pointing out that every time we go for a walk we see something different. Every. Time.




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