I don’t know if you’ve come across Arianna Huffington’s new book Thrive. It has an initially baffling subtitle “The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder” Third metric? Well, apparently it’s a metaphor based on the milking stool – you need that third leg to have a solid foundation. Although of course when you’re walking you only need two. But maybe I'm being too literal.
There’s a chapter in the book titled “Walk This Way” (not a reference to Aerosmith and Run DMC as far as I can tell). Arianna is a great walker apparently. When she lived in Los Angeles she got many of her best ideas while hiking. A lot of the planning for the Huffington Post was done on hikes. When she was pregnant she walked around the grounds of the LA hotel she was staying in. And no, I don’t know why she was staying in an LA hotel during her pregnancy. And no, I haven't been able to find a good picture of her walking.
In that walking chapter she quotes Cavafy, Thomas Jefferson, Hemingway, Thoreau and “British author Geoff Nicholson.” “Words inscribe a text in the same way that a walk inscribes space,” he says. “Writing is one way of making the world our own, and … walking is another.”
Naturally I’m not going to argue with that, since I wrote it, but I thought it might be instructive to point out that the quotation in full runs, “Modern literary theory sees a similarity between walking and writing that I find persuasive: words inscribe a text in the same way that a walk inscribes space. In The Practice of Everyday Life, Michel De Certeau writes, 'The act of walking is a process of appropriation of the topographical system on the part of the pedestrian; it is a special acting-out of the place ... and it implies relations among differentiated positions.' I think this is a fancy way of saying that writing is one way of making the world our own, and that walking is another.” Arianna must have thought that even mentioning De Certeau was too fancy. That's him below, walking.
Oh, and if you think I’m being a little presumptuous by referring to Ms. Huffington as Arianna – trust me, we’re on first name terms. She sent me an advanced proof copy of her book, along with this card:
Online evidence suggests it’s her actual signature. That’s what I call attention to detail. I also read on her Twitter feed, and elsewhere, that she describes herself as a “flat shoe advocate” – well nobody’s perfect.