Thomas Doty – Storyteller

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Near the End of the Road

I'm going to talk about walking.

First I need to say that I own a four wheel drive, a Japanese Jeep sort of vehicle which has faithfully taken me to the ends of roads all over the West. But I also need to say that once I find the end of the road, I stop my rig. I get out. And I proceed, using the most dependable transportation known to humankind: my feet.

I do not seek memberships in elite clubs of off-roaders who scrape and scar the landscape in a world of too many roads. There are more than a million miles of roads in Oregon. Nooooo. I walk. And I walk. And I walk.

I walk to find new places, through woods the fall wind has turned to showers of leaves, into deserts to let my imagination fill the open spaces with stories and poems. I walk through familiar places to feel the seasons shift. I walk to clear my mind of cluttered thoughts.

Henry David Thoreau wrote: "I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits unless I spend four hours a day at least ... sauntering through the woods and over hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements."

There you have it. Henry and I are of the same mind. And we're not alone. Australian aborigines call it "walking about". Pit River Indians of northern California call it "wandering". I call it "walking" ... and it means the same thing.