I wouldn’t be able to complete my next book without significant time in the hedgerows. To and from my local coffeehouse, or the bank, I can walk instead of drive. Often times when I walk I arrive with better thoughts to write down quickly; instead of spending eight hours in a day typing, I have to get out and move for a while.
The thinking isn’t done directly. My hedgerows, which are often just alleyways in a mid-sized Midwestern town, don’t have blackberries growing. Instead, I pick aluminum cans. Taleb points out the irony of having a valet carry your suitcases to the hotel room, and later lifting weights in the hotel’s exercise room.
Like Taleb, I cannot see the value in paying for a gym membership. Supposedly they motivate you to work out more often since you’ve committed your dollars, but this doesn’t always work for people and ends up being a profit center for the gym. Instead, I get paid to exercise and think. When I walk I pick up aluminum cans. Perhaps I look as though I’m a bum, picking up other’s trash, but there are several benefits to this method. First, of course I can cash in the cans after I accumulate quite a few, and this helps fund my non-profit’s travel budget. Second, I beautify my city. Third, like blackberries or other delicacies one might hope to find, it gives me something to keep my eyes peeled for. There’s something fun in finding that can and scooping it into my bag.
In some ways, I’m combining exercise, thinking time (space I need to be able to be creative later), cleaning up my town, and there’s even a little compensation for it.
The point is, you may not live in rural England, with its beautiful hedges and idyllic scenery. Your town may be noisy, your streets may be dirty, but practicing hedgerows is really getting yourself in shape to go to the edge of the world.
They aren’t the same thing. I think that, like Xi in The Gods Must Be Crazy, our walking may take us to the edge of the world:
Xi was angry with the gods. He shouted, “Take back your thing! We don`t want it! Look at the trouble it brought. “
The gods did not take it back.
He shouted, “You must be crazy to send us this thing! Take it back!“
Then he shouted, “Look out! Look out!“
But he spoke too late and the thing felled his daughter Dani.
Xi carried the thing away from the shelter and buried it.
That evening, there was no laughter and no chatter around the family fire.
A strange feeling of shame had come over the family…and they were very quiet.
Xi said, “I have buried the thing. It will not make us unhappy again. “
That night, a hyena smelled the blood on the thing, and dug it up.
A bad-tempered warthog chased the hyena away and it dropped the thing.
The next day, Dani found it. Her brother Toma heard her playing on it and said, “Let me try. Let me try too. “
That night the family was very unhappy. They began to talk about this thing. They did not have a name for it. They called it the “evil thing. “
Gaboo said, “Perhaps the gods were absent-minded… when they dropped the evil thing on the earth.
They`ve always sent only good things, like rain, trees, roots and berries to eat.
We are their children and they love us. But now they`ve sent this evil thing. “
Xi said, “The thing does not belong on the earth. Tomorrow I will take it to the end
of the earth and throw it off. “
Gobo said, “I think the end of the earth must be very far. I think you`ll have to walk for 20 days. Perhaps 40. “
Xi said, “I will start walking tomorrow. “
It is much harder to find the edge of the world when we haven’t been walking down the hedgerows. Will you start walking tomorrow?
Check the archives for more content on the hedgerows idea.