As I Walked, So I Thought
Note: Podcast returns this March. For now, here’s a revised post from my archive.
Meditation doesn’t work for me. Instead, I walk (a lot!) in order to reflect on life. Luckily for me, as a philosophy student at the University of Toronto (UofT), there’s actually a dedicated Philosopher’s Walk on campus.
I’m also grateful for the many pleasant paths and wonderful trails throughout UofT’s tri-campus. Like those, for example, in Scarborough (UTSC). There, one can enjoy long undisturbed walks in nature, which always make my visits to UTSC extra special.
The relationship between walking and thinking is intriguing. And, it’s worth mentioning that I found a fascinating book on the subject.
This book, written by Bruce Baugh and entitled Philosophers’ Walks, explores the view of walking as an active and embodied form of knowing. It covers Baugh’s own journey, following in the footsteps of various philosophers, to better understand the connection between their walks and their thoughts. Interestingly, Baugh completed his Phd at UofT and would, during his studies, frequent its Philosopher’s Walk for inspiration and relaxation.
And, now, I’d like to share with you a sense of connection that came to me whilst I was strolling along the Philosopher’s Walk at UofT. I was thinking about our carbon footprints for a course on environmental ethics, when it occurred to me that there’s another (more positive) way to think about it.
As I was walking and breathing in the oxygen necessary for me to even ponder the ethical dilemma of greenhouse gas emissions, I became aware that I was emitting carbon dioxide (CO2) as I breathed out. I then noticed the trees on the Philosopher’s Walk and remembered that they actually depend on carbon dioxide in order to grow.
So, I wondered, perhaps some of the CO2 molecules taken up by the trees were emitted by passersby like Bruce, myself and the generations of philosophy students, faculty and departmental staff who preceded us.
In this way, the philosophy community at UofT is physically interconnected and embodied in the surrounding environment. After all, with every new season, a new tree ring is grown. Moreover, this connection also reflects how current generations of philosophers inherit and build upon what was laid down by those generations that preceded them.
So, our recreational spaces, like UofT’s Philosopher’s Walk, naturally represent the communities that they serve. Indeed, it’s very fitting for a university whose motto is:
Velut arbor ævo (Latin for as a tree through the ages)
Anyway, by UofT’s Philosopher’s Walk, that’s where I’m happiest about my carbon footprint.
“Happy is the man who can recognise in the work of to-day a connected portion of the work of life and an embodiment of the work of Eternity” - James Clerk Maxwell
Next month, fingers crossed, I’ll finally post some cool podcast episodes. Cheers!
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