The First Mobile Device: Your Brain on Foot

Written by Kimberly MacArthur Graham on May 26, 2015


If I had a theme song, it would be “The Ancient Egyptians” by cross-pollinating musical group Poi Dog Pondering. Subtitled a “love letter to Jonathan Richman,” it’s an ode to walking that begins with a nod to ancient history and ends with the benefits of ditching vehicular transport today in favor of one’s feet. Whereas the ancient people in Poi Dog’s song had  to “walk, where ever they had to go,” I choose to walk as many places as possible. I have made many life choices based on this: I live, work, and do most of my playing in a densely built, readily accessible area of downtown Denver. For example, I work 1.5 miles from home and I walk in every day (no matter the weather – I have all manner of gear). Of course, I use a vehicle at times, to reach the mountains or trails to . . . . walk!

For the most part, I am content moving within a small radius because I’m content to focus inward. I am by nature more of an extrovert, but I spend most of my days interfacing with people, including a lot of selling, and I cherish time spent alone and quiet. What do I think about? What don’t I think about? Day to day, the agenda differs, depending upon the day’s events, my mood and energy level, and any pressing issues that have my attention. Some days I focus on something until the repetitive movement helps unlock my brain and discover a solution. Other times, that same rhythm allows me to escape, to put a worry or perceived slight behind me. Some of my very best ideas come while I’m walking, ranging from client taglines to personnel issues. I need to figure out a billing code for “Individual Ambulatory Brainstorming.” Whether I’m in a park, or on city streets, being outdoors in an open and always-changing environment stimulates my brain in a way that the best-designed office cannot. And even those areas that I see nearly every day change, with the seasons, with changes in tenancy, and with the weather. Ever notice how much more vibrant flora are in overcast weather than in the sun? Or seen steady soft rain as threads of silver? These are the experiences that nourish me, and they are available daily, every single time I head out on foot. It’s practically a miracle.

The closing line of “The Ancient Egyptians” resonated with me the very first time I heard it. I came to think of it as a kind of anthem, and today, more than 20 years later, it still speaks to my soul. “You get to know things better when they go by slow.” That, for me at least, includes myself.

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