Frequent contributor Susan Dworski sent this from the Lummi Island Heritage Trust newsletter:

Wind Walking the Dutch Way: Uitwaaien

As we welcome winter, many humans are drawn indoors. Attempting to stay cozy, warm, and keep the elements at bay. However, windy winter storms are a great chance to head outside and practice uitwaaien.

This simple Dutch practice does not have a direct translation, but roughly equates to “out blowing.” Head outside and spend time in nature while the wind blows against your skin and tosses your hair. The idea comes from replacing the stale air around you with fresh, moving air in order to re-energize and relax.

It’s the first I’d heard of wind walking. Of course, I went out right away to do it. As with Forest Bathing, the word taken to heart and mind changes the experience of an “ordinary” walk. It expands our sense of ourselves and our relationship to the outdoors, and attunes us to the refreshing quality of the wind, of the air itself.

David Saltman thought uitwaaien could be related to an expression he learned in Malaysia.”Makan angin”, literally “Eat the wind”  describes clearing one’s mind, going on vacation, being free…

Susan said uitwaaien made her think of Strandbeests, the wild Dutch windwalkers artist Theo Jansen created to walk on beaches, powered by the wind.  Wouldn’t it be fabulous to see/be one of those brilliant machines?

Said Jansen:

The breeze gives it life.  And they don’t have to eat because they get their energy from the wind… 


Uitwaaien reminded me of “Envelopes of Air”, a remarkable correspondence between poets Natalie Diaz and Ada Limón, written as poetry in The New Yorker.  Air is a recurring theme, most powerfully in this excerpt from Diaz’ letter/poem to Limón, “Isn’t the Air Also a Body, Moving?”

Maybe this living is a balance of drunkenness
off nitrogen and the unbearable
atmosphere of memory.

From the right distance, I can hold anything
            in my hand—the hawk riding a thermal,
the sea, the red cliff, my love
glazed in fine red dust, your letter, even the train.
     Each is devoured in its own envelope of air.

What we hold grows weight.
Becomes enough or burden.

What if it’s true about the air and our hands?
That they’re only an extension
of an outside reaching in?
I’m pointing to me and to you to look
    out at this world.

 Limón replies in “Sway“,

I don’t know how to make medicine, or cure what’s scarring
this planet, but I know that last night the train came roaring

right as I needed it. I was alone and I was time, but
the train made a noise so I would listen. I was standing so

close, a body on a bridge, that I could feel how
the air shifted to make room for the train. How it’s easier

if we become more like a body of air, branches, and make room
for this red charging thing that barrels through us,

how afterward our leaves shake and stand straighter.



Rachel Levit Ruiz for The New Yorker


Isn’t the air also a body, moving?



Read Susan Dworski’s wonderful writing for Improvised Life here.

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3 replies on “How to be Clear: Walk the Wind with Natalie Diaz, Ada Limón, Theo Jansen

  1. The Strandbeests! So beautiful so magical.

  2. Hi again. I just read something that spoke to some of what I was trying to communicate when I wrote you before your “reset” break. It’s not inspiring, but it begins to put a finger on something that’s been bothering me, deeply, way more than just “job distress”. Since I figure it may be new to you too, I’m passing it on, for what its worth. By the way, I think you’re doing great with Improvised Life! I continue to enjoy and value reading your words, same as always. Thank you. -elisabethcheney

  3. Thank you for this very interesting view of the impact of “moral injury” on our spirit and health. “Moral injury occurs when we perpetrate, bear witness to, or fail to prevent an act that transgresses our deeply held moral beliefs.”

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