There will not be much lifestyle tips and inspiration on this blog but today I felt the urge to urge you all to do something, and that thing is to wander. Walk around without really thinking about where you are going. And look around as you’re doing so.
Observe. Take an interest. Study. Observe the buildings that you’re walking past. Notice the ones you find intriguing and learn about them later. Did you know that the library have books about the history of neighborhoods and individual buildings in your town? It probably does. You can learn a lot from taking an interest in your own city, your own neighborhood, and I’m not only, or even mainly, talking about the factual history of the place. You can learn about people, about what it means to be alive in a particular place at a particular time. You can learn about yourself. You’ll get a feel for the rhythm of the streets you walk each day and might even develop a sense of belonging that you didn’t think was possible. You’re taking part in a massive theatre play that unfolds all around you every second of every day. Don’t you want to know the background to the story?
I wander a lot. Sometimes I just walk out the door and walk around aimlessly in my own neighborhood. I know several people who have lived in the same apartment for years and barely knows what it looks like around the corner from their own front door. I’ve walked up and down every street within a reasonable walking distance from my house. I know when and why several of the neighborhoods and buildings were built. What era in history that brought them about and that they represent. When I close my eyes I can picture the streets of the city around me as a detailed 3D-landscape stretching for several kilometers in every direction without many blank spots. Can you do that? I urge you to try, it’s an interesting exercise.
Sometimes when I feel like taking a long walk I hop on the tram and get off at a stop where I’ve never gotten off before, in a part of town where I’ve never had a reason to be. And then I wander around there, just up and down streets looking at the buildings, the people and nature where it’s breaking through. Even inner cities have a surprisingly rich plant- and wildlife. You’ll see it if you look for it. If the stop is not too far away I sometimes end up walking home, which is always an enriching experience. You gain a certain sense and appreciation for the interconnectedness of things each time you walk the entire way from a new place to your own home. It’s hard to explain, you know it if you’ve felt it.
And, of course, as interesting as it can be don’t just wander in your own city. Do it when you’re traveling around the world. When visiting somewhere you’ve never been before don’t see only the famous landmarks that you’ve already read about and maybe even seen pictures of. There seems to be a hell of a lot of that going on these days. Everybody’s talking about their passion for traveling and seeing the world but many seems to be going places mainly to confirm that it looks just like in the pictures and take a selfie to prove that they’ve been there. Honestly, what’s the point of that? Take some time just wandering around the place. Observe the people, feel their rhythm. The soul of a city lives in the backstreets, in the cafés, pubs and delis. This applies perhaps especially to the great cities of the world. I’ve never been to New York but I doubt you’ll find its essence anywhere near the statue of liberty. I have been to Paris quite a few times and I barely even count visiting the Eiffel Tower among the more interesting experiences I’ve had there.
So there you have it. Walk around. Experience the backstreets of your own neighborhood and the world. Reading this you might not think you have the time for it in your busy life but I’m telling you that you do and that you will benefit from it. It’s relaxing. It stimulates your mind and allows you to sort out your thoughts.
I do urge you to wander.