During my two previous excursions with prepositions (‘walking to’ and ‘walking towards’) I came across a huge range of web sites under the umbrella of these expressions in which individuals and groups were engaging in positive and creative activities. This is not surprising perhaps, since ‘walking to/towards’ describes a forward type of motion.
‘Walking away’ does not have that forward motion. It has largely negative connotations. It suggests ‘the end of something’ and other expressions such as ‘giving up’. If it isn’t as dramatic as ‘fleeing’, yet there is something of flight suggested in the act of walking away.
An Internet search seemed to bear this out. The Telegraph newspaper for instance, writes today of the (yet-again) stalled peace talks between Israel and Palestine. The headline shouts: “Benjamin Netanyahu says Palestinians ‘walking away’ from peace” . The article reports that peace talks have “ …collapsed after Washington admitted it was no longer pressing Israel for a new freeze on settlement building …” this being the one Palestinian stipulation for continuing to engage in the peace making negotiations”.
Another article explains how the worldwide economic crisis is creating a syndrome that the mortgage industry is calling ‘jingle mail’. This idiom describes the sound made by keys dropping to the floor through a letter box. It’s a rather cruel expression as it’s joking about people who, through debt, have to ‘walk away’ from their homes. It’s from an article at MSN.com article headed: “Homeowners who just walk away”. Thousands in the US are abandoning their homes “… realizing they have bitten off more than they can ever chew. For some, it’s about payments that are going to reset to hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars higher. For others, it’s the loss of a second paycheck”. A woman interviewed, describes how she felt after she decided she “… had to take a walk” from her home.
My research results were not all doom and gloom however. They also revealed that sometimes, ‘walking away’ is a positive action, such as in walking away from an abusive relationship. You can ‘walk away’ with a prize and there are always reports of how someone ‘walked away without a scratch’ from an accident in the face of impossible odds against.
There are many sad love quotes about ‘walking away’, but I prefer to present an uplifting and encouraging one:
“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it”. Soren Kierkegaard
A 1962 poem by the Irish poet C Day Lewis, entitled ‘Walking Away’ ends with two lines that are some of the most beautiful and true I’ve come across. The subject of the poem is the poet’s 18 year old son. It is about how, one particular day, the poet watched his son ‘walking away’ from him onto a football pitch. It seemed to symbolise the fact that he was soon to be walking away from him into and that a proof of loving one’s child was in the ability to let him (or her) ‘walk away’ when the time for ‘selfhood’ came.
You can read the poem on the official C Day Lewis web site.
Perhaps all walking activity is a ‘walking away’ activity. It brings a sense of freedom and wellbeing to walk into the countryside, away from the town or one’s habitual environment.
- When you walk, what are you walking away from?
- Is this a positive or a negative ‘walking away’?