Before I started [my walks], I imagined I could fill my days by composing an epic poem in my head or writing a novel about a Scottish village that would become more rooted in a single place as I kept moving. In Iran, I tried earnestly to think through philosophical arguments, learn Persian vocabulary, and memorize poetry. Perhaps this is why I never felt quite at ease walking in Iran.

In Pakistan, having left the desert and entered the lush Doab of the Punjab, I stopped trying to think and instead looked at peacocks in trees and the movement of the canal water. In India, when I was walking from one pilgrimage site to another across the Himalayas, I carried the Bhagavad Gita open in my left hand and read one line at at time. In the center of Nepal, I began to count my breaths and my steps, and to recite phrases to myself, pushing thoughts away. This is the way some people meditate. I could only feel that calm for at most an hour a day. It was, however, a serenity I had not felt before. It was what I valued most about walking.

Rory Stewart, The Places in Between