Walking Relics

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On the surface, I have come to appreciate my relationship with walking as a means of transportation, of exercise, of subversion, and of empowerment. However, a more deeply meaningful aspect of walking to me is the repetition and ritual of it. This piece speaks to the near-religious relationship instilled in me on the walks I’ve done most frequently. Each of these routes has drawn me closer with those who led me, and ultimately, they prepared me for continuing alone.

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In each of these vials is some of the earth from the three chosen walks. Just as my feet have run ruts in the earth, so have these places made impressions in me. The dirt, dust, sand and pebbles are the physical representation of the way that I always bring these places with me. The beads knotted into the waxed string (simulated sinew) correspond to the repetition of the ritual. Each bead stands for 50 times walked.

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I know that my walks contained stories, had pieces of me, and even helped  raise me. In Wanderlust: A History of Walking, Rebecca Solnit writes, “To walk the same route again can mean to think the same thoughts again, as though thoughts and idea were indeed fixed objects in a landscape one need only know how to travel through.”1  I  was taught that if you take raw materials from the earth, you should thank the place, and ideally give something back. When I re-walked these paths to collect the earth, I knew that these places already had so much of me.

1 Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking (New York: Penguin Books, 2000), 78. Bibliography

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