Vince Imbat

Walking could break your sense of identity

Dec 15, 2021

According to Frédéric Gros, walking breaks one’s sense of identity, which sounds a lot like what meditation does according to Buddhists. This coincides with the Pilgrim stage in Four stages of life in Hindu philosophy.

When one walks, especially long ones, one arrives at renunciation. One realizes that much of what makes up the self is imposed by society and not necessarily chosen by one. Walking leads to a realization of the fiction of identity, which leads to a freedom to simply be present.

This means that walking is similar to meditation and is a good metaphor for presence and truly living.

# References

Gros, F. (2014). A Philosophy of Walking. Verso.

by walking you are not going to meet yourself. By walking, you escape from the very idea of identity, the temptation to be someone, to have a name and a history. Being someone is all very well for smart parties where everyone is telling their story, it’s all very well for psychologists’ consulting rooms. But isn’t being someone also a social obligation which trails in its wake – for one has to be faithful to the self-portrait – a stupid and burdensome fiction? The freedom in walking lies in not being anyone; for the walking body has no history, it is just an eddy in the stream of immemorial life.