By Shelley Friend
There was a man in my neighborhood who walked every day carrying a backpack. He was a small man and it looked like he added weight to his backpack. Every time I saw him he appeared to be walking slower the more weight he carried…no ear plugs, no phone, he just walked carrying a heavier and heavier backpack. I made up all kinds of stories about him.
Could he be preparing for a hike to Mount Everest? Could he be preparing for teaching at a wilderness camp? Maybe by carrying the weight in his backpack, he felt like he could handle whatever life gave him, once he took the weight out. I don’t know what happened to him because he is no longer around, but I always wondered what he was thinking while he was walking.
In her book, Thrive, Arianna Huffington explains the term “solvitur ambulando,” which means “it is solved by walking.” She shares a story about Diogenes, a fourth-century BC Greek philosopher who was trying to understand motion, and whether or not it was real. He got up and walked in order to seek his answer.
Huffington wrote an interesting article about how walking has been effective for her, both professionally and personally. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/hemingway-thoreau-jeffers_b_3837002.html
Over the past several years I have taught university and college students different courses in communication. I have created an exercise to help them prepare for their speeches called our “walk and talk.”
Since most people are afraid of giving speeches and it is required in most of our courses, I have seen the terror on their faces as they embark on the most dreaded aspect of their college career. Our “walk and talk” is designed for three or four students to bring their outlines and each talk about their speech organization with a small group, while walking around campus. It gives them time to think aloud in a small group and receive feedback, while detached from their devices. It’s universally appealing because we are focused on the solution and of helping each other. I’ve also led walking meetings in leadership positions in organizations so I know it works.
I believe the practice of solvitur ambulando works in the public sector, the private sector, the non-profit sector and even in the home. It’s a universal concept. Since we, as Iron Butterflies, walk as Iron Caterpillars before we fly, let’s all move forward together.
Let us know how solvitur ambulando works for you!
Shelley grew up in Liberty, Texas and now lives in Austin. Fortunately, she had supportive grandparents, siblings, family, friends and, acquaintances, as well as neighbors, teachers and faith to help her grow and thrive after the loss of her mother, at age 14.
She got her degrees in Public Policy and Communication from The University of Texas and The University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She worked in government and has taught Organizational, Intercultural, Interpersonal and Group Communication, Leadership and Public Speaking on the university and college level for many years. She studied Intercultural Communication as part of the Fulbright Program in Bulgaria. Then, she and a colleague taught Intercultural Communication and Cooperative Learning to participants from all over the world in the Fulbright International Summer Institute, also in Bulgaria.
Shelley teaches part-time at Austin Community College and works as a Communication Consultant in the public, private and non-profit sectors. She sits on the Board of Directors for FaithWorks of Abilene, a non-profit whose mission is to “help the underemployed, through personal, career, academic and spiritual development, acquire the confidence and skills for gainful and long-term employment.” Their motto is “it’s never too late to become what you might have been.” In other words, they create the environment for Iron Butterflies to flourish. http://faithworksofabilene.org.
She married her college sweetheart, Travis Kessler, and they have two smart, strong, beautiful, successful and loving daughters, who married two creative, supportive, strong and loving men. They have one magnificent grandson, who makes the world a better place through the twinkle in his eye and his infectious laugh. And, they have one new granddaughter, who is a tiny bundle of beauty and joy.