Punk Rock Walking: A Manifesto

1) Do you feel the rumbling? The upswell, the surge inside? The itching, the ache, the sense that there is more to existence than this robotic buzz hypnotizing, these screens confining busy worker bees on behalf of polite society, capitalism, consumption. These walls! This structure! Do you feel the infinite scream in your throat? The riot in your gut? Do you see the stagnation, the slow death to cells and souls? You do see! You know, even if you try to ignore it. DO NOT! Do not surrender. Do not be numb. Be fierce in your willingness to acknowledge what is true: Life demands you to move. Do not die in your cage. The door is open. Get out!

2) Those are not your toes. Bent and misshapen, bubbling corns and bunions. This is not your fate, your destiny, god’s will. Your toes can move, should move! Spread and lift. Curl! Wiggle one at time. Kiss the earth toe by toe. Kiss your lips toe by toe. Use your hands as the messenger. Massage and stretch. Lightly tickle. Liberate your feet. Let them out!

3) Here’s the crux, the essential thing to know: Do not be ashamed of your gnarly toes, your buckling ankles, your dropped arches. Your feet were bound as a baby. You had no choice: Wear these shoes. Now: Go to school. Now: Sit at a desk. Have to pee? Raise your hand. Ask permission. Can you hold it until the end of the lecture? You can’t, but you are afraid to step out of line so you nod and sit quietly, but hear nothing. You feel only the burn in your bladder. You see only the lazy red line counting seconds on the clock. Slower. Each. Beat. Your feet are shaped by your society. Your feet, your mind, your heart, your body. Your health and your sickness, your aches and your injuries all created by your culture, our culture. It is not your fault. You were born innocent to a group agreement that we all ignore our bodily impulses in favor of an arbitrary order of collective silence. It is not your fault. But now: It is your responsibility. You are an adult. You must sharpen your mind, think deeper, see better with age. Do not let your feet look like that anymore. Learn what toes are capable of achieving, find out how strong feet are shaped.

4) Buy only shoes that you love. Ones that feel good and allow your toes room to move. Shoes from Italy or Oregon. The most wellmade you can afford. Why do we still believe that items should be cheap? We know the cost of “cheap” things ~ the cost to our environment, to our fellow humans working in factories, to our own souls when we pretend we don’t know these things ~ is actually incalculable. Belongings should be expensive and beautiful and should last a long time. People should earn a living wage for creating the costumes with which we adorn ourselves. Earth should not be abused so we can get dressed in the morning. Our closets should be small and uncrowded. Buy good shoes. Wear them enthusiastically. Polish them once a week. Have their soles repaired when they need it. Know your cobbler by name. Bring him flowers on his birthday.

5) Walk everywhere always as much as you can. Pick up litter along the way. Drop your envelopes in the mailbox. Notice your neighborhood. Where are you needed? Can you be of service? Carry groceries on your back and in your arms. Stop for coffee along the way. Know your barista by name. Bring her flowers on her birthday.

6) Your body was born millions of years ago in an environment full of smells and sights, sensationally rich. In those days, you shivered in the wind and warmed your skin in the sun. Your feet felt earth. You saw birds in faraway trees. You were alert, aware, able to respond to every unexpected physical challenge. You could run and climb and reach and squat and throw and rip and pull and drag and carry. Can you make your walks this vivid? How many different surfaces can you walk on? Balance on? How many leaps can you take? How many strange looks can you get from people passing you by?

7) You don’t have to wear sweatpants when you walk. You can dress beautifully when you walk. Aesthetics mean something. Not superficial, fashionista, mainstream “beauty” standard type of aesthetics, but the type of aesthetics that show consideration, care, delight for the experience of being embodied. Look for beautiful buildings when you walk, ones that please your eye, surprise you, call you inside. How do they make you feel? Now look at the sterile, unimaginative buildings, the thoughtless boxes that were erected in service of the developer’s bank account, not in service of the community that must pass by and enter them. Do these make you feel dead a little? Don’t die inside! Be like the beautiful buildings, you. 

8) Climb everything. Fences and walls. But if it’s a tree, be reverent. Ask, “May I climb you?” Wait for permission. Then move gently. Hug limbs and trunk. Say thank you.

9) If we put the care of our bodies first, we would experience a revolution. Care is not a weight-loss obsession or the latest fitness craze or winning at athletic competition or performing extreme feats of physical exertion. Care is awe and wonder at the divine collection of stardust cells and water and wind that make up your mysterious existence as flesh and bone and blood. Human. If we put the care of our human bodies first, we would know that what we need are not stand up treadmill desks, but fresh air, clean water, real food, movement all day, community, ceremony, connection, and meaning.

Punk Rock Walking 5

10) Revolution needs two things. It needs bold visionaries who see the insanity and exclaim without apology, “No more!” And it needs small, seemingly insignificant changes made daily, step by step, quietly by all those who also see the insanity, who see the potential of our humanity, who believe it can be better. Walk.