Greta Garbo walking in Manhattan – 1974
“Every day she went on two walks: long meandering strolls that might take her up to the Museum of Modern Art or the Waldorf; walks for which she shod herself in tan or chocolate or cream suede Hush Puppies. … Often she went all the way to Washington Square and back, a loop of six miles, stopping to gaze in the windows of bookstores and delis, walking aimlessly, walking not as a means but as an end, an ideal occupation in and of itself.
‘When I stopped working, I preferred other activities, many other activities,’ she once said. ‘I would rather be outside walking than to sit inside a theater and watch a picture moving. Walking is my greatest pleasure.’ And again: ‘Often I just go where the man in front of me is going. I couldn’t survive here if I didn’t walk. I couldn’t be 24 hours in this apartment. I get out and look at the human beings.’”
– Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone, 2016
This is kind of beautiful. She was mega mutable – Gemini Rising, Sun and Mercury in Virgo, a Mars in Sagittarius.
Of course, it is not just the Mutable signs who are more prone to be flaneurs or to prefer walking meditations. They are just classically more restless, more needing to move it all around a bit.
In Ancient Greece, people like Aristotle and Co thought that the brain ONLY worked when people were in motion. And it’s true that daily, long walking practice – usually solitary – is endemic among successful creatives.
Charles Dickens was apparently an obsessive walker – he was Aquarius but madly mutable – Virgo Rising, Moon Neptune in Sagittarius, Venus Pluto in Pisces, Jupiter on Midheaven in Gemini.
Quick astrology lesson, if you are not doing the 99 Astro Hacks – having a strong planet like Jupiter on the public image/legacy point of the Midheaven and in wordy Gemini = enduring words.
My walking is of two kinds: one, straight on end to a definite goal at a round pace; one, objectless, loitering, and purely vagabond. In the latter state, no gipsy on earth is a greater vagabond than myself; it is so natural to me, and strong with me, that I think I must be the descendant, at no great distance, of some irreclaimable tramp.
Charles Dickens, The Uncommercial Traveller