I frequently run and explore the public foot paths around Totnes, which have gone rather muddy as of late. The cross-trainer running shoes that I wear normally encourage me to strike the ground with my heel first, causing me to slip and slide in a potentially dangerous fashion. One day, I simply took off my shoes and socks and continued to run through the mud—barefoot. It was invigorating!
Running barefoot surprises me. The sudden cool wet sensation on the bottom of my feet heightens my senses. The mud squeezing up between my toes reminds me of the paints I use in the studio. My body moves differently and is somehow more aware, improvising to terrain. I feel more animal. I think of the repeated, unmitigated connection my feet make with the land. The dynamics of the running experience are increased exponentially. Sense and perception bleed into one another, forming a richer and deeper notion of place. Instead of running across the landscape, I run with the landscape.
It has me wondering, how can I enliven my sensory experience in other parts of my everyday life? Increasing our sensitivity to our environment seems to be a positive thing to work toward.
Essential Nature: ArtWalking in North Devon
Find out about these art walks at Westward Ho! and Northam Burrows.