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Wandering: From Reading to A Secret Society

Alicia Bakey By Alicia Bakey Published on October 9, 2016

Solvitur Ambulando! It is solved by walking.

Nature has been a source of inspiration for many writers throughout time. Henry David Thoreau, an American essayist and poet was a known naturalist and revered escaping within the dark forests. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” What more reason can one need to break the bonds of everyday life than to find their inner balance? Everything can be solved by simply taking a walk outside.

Jane Austen alluded to the allure of nature in her many novels, by having her main characters finding peace in the rolling green hills and soft woods of the English countryside. “For what are men to rocks and mountains?” A not so subtle hint from Austen in Pride and Prejudice. Even Austen’s young, unwed character knows the true power of the wild outdoors and the energizing effect it has. 

Friedrich Nietzsche, a German poet and philosopher once wrote, “Never trust any thought while sitting down.” His beliefs were well known for embracing life with both the good and bad and seeing that strife is balanced by happiness. Living in the moment helps when the stressful aspects of life come crashing down. Enjoying the simple act of a walk is right up Nietzsche’s alley.

While the list can continue, it is best to discuss the writer who has become the main inspiration to modern wanderers; Walt Whitman. Walter “Walt” Whitman was an American poet, essayist and journalist who penned such notable works as Song of Myself and O Captain! My Captain. His poetry collection Leaves of Grass though, has gained a cult following and inspired even more people to find appreciation in nature, and in wandering. “To the rocks I, calling, sing, and all the trees in the woods, … and responding, they answer all, (but not in words,)” Whitman found simple enjoyment in going for a leisure walk on the same road every day. Far and exotic travel wasn’t a necessity, although it could be exciting. Instead one can go out and meander the trails around their home. They can walk the busy streets of their own city and sit quietly, observing people in the local park or city center. Regardless of where, Whitman makes his views clear on this; you must get out.

“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know it.
Perhaps it is everywhere- on water and land.”

Regardless of where, an individual must leave the dull, daily grind and experience the beauty of nature to find peace and understanding of one’s true self. Due to these simple, yet profound beliefs of Whitman’s, a new wave of outdoor aficionados have come forward.

This group is called The Wander Society. This secret society is made up of readers and writers, as well as nature lovers and introverts alike. The foundational belief behind this group is best explained in Keri Smith’s book titled, The Wander Society. She explains how the purpose of The Wander Society group is in fact, to have no purpose. One must simply go out and be open to whatever crosses their path. Taking notes on sounds, smells, sights and discoveries. To find the mysteries and intrigue in nature and the common things that are often overlooked. This group has adopted Whitman as it's founder and figurehead, his face can often be seen on stickers or popped up on walls as street art. Their end-goal is straightforward, enjoy the world around you and help remind others to do so in whatever way you deem possible. Some Wanderers will leave behind quotes scribbled on walls (like the Latin phrase Solvitur Ambulando!) Others print pamphlets or 'zines that are mysteriously left at restaurants or stores to give out to the public. All of these are done as inspiration for more to join in. Appreciate the beauty that is around you, partake of the quiet and effortless way that meandering through the world can give a person renewed life.

Keri Smith’s book is a required read to better understand The Wander Society and to gain ideas of how to become a Wanderer. Read Walt Whitman, devour his works. But remember there is no enrollment fee, or hassle-filled form to complete to become a member. Simple BE a wanderer. BE inspired and go out. Write about what you see and experience, let the wandering feed your soul.

If you want a few easy reads, grab a copy of Icons of England, a collection of essays edited by Bill Bryson. These short snippets remind the reader of the beauty in common, everyday things in the English Countryside. Maybe it will be inspiration enough for a flight to the UK, or easier, to look around on a local walk and pen your own odes to what is found there.

If you want to truly live the life of a wanderer, pack your bags and get ready. After you read, Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman, you will want to shove everything in storage and bask in the simple life as you wander the world.  

Regardless of your level of wander: full-time backpacker, secret society member or one of those daily-jaunt-through-the-park types, it is easy to understand how whatever IT is, “It is solved by walking.”

    An English teacher currently living in Abu Dhabi. She works in a desert bedouin town teaching young girls and has travelled to over 20 countries in the last year alone. A large passion for both ... Show More