Flaneur – “Someone who walks around not doing anything in particular but watching people and society” (Cambridge Dictionary)
Many of us now grow weary of the enduring idleness at home because of the Corona pandemic lockdown. So let us “turn the tables” and imagine that today represents the first time since this self quarantine began that you felt safely willing and able to venture outdoors for a refreshing walk around your neighborhood. Since you are already in slowdown mode from being cooped up inside, it suddenly feels more natural to stroll casually rather than “ramp up your hiking pace today. Although there are familiar surroundings that you will obviously observe in your neighborhood then then, you may also notice unexpected images which you have never seemed to recognize before: perhaps the colors of a blossoming tree, the shape of a street sign, the smell of a rain gutter, the touch of a fallen leaf, or the sound of a flag flapping in the breeze.
As you continue on your path to such unexpected encounters, you begin to romanticize innocent memories of your youthful past. It begins to rain but you seemingly don’t care today about getting wet. Only the refreshing cool of the falling drops on your body enters your mind now. Your walk then quietly ends as you take a seat on a lonely park bench feeling a calm appreciation for the beautifully fresh greenness that surrounds you now.
Welcome to “Flaneuring” or the intentional act of aimless wandering, as outlined in Erica Owen’s novel , “The Art Of Flaneuring – How to Wander With Intention and Discover a Better Life.” So many of us today thrive on time driven, task deadlines to move from point A to point B. Yet Owen teaches us the personal value of finding slower times during our day to be outside simply for the sake of being outside. He accordingly recommends that we must maximize use of all of our human senses as we venture out to discover self- revelations of the unexpected moment encountered during such aimless wanderings.
So let’s practice our “Flaneuring” skill potential in more of an urban-like setting. Imagine you are traveling to Paris, France on your first post-pandemic vacation. As you feel relieved to be on the outside again, you’ve reasoned it best to take your time on a leisurely walk around the city. Now observe any thoughts/emotions that arise as you conduct this imagined walk via one or several of the places presented in the video below. I recommend as well that you stop and restart the tape as needed to give yourself additional time to jot down brief notes about such mental images observed for any particular photo of interest. Perhaps you will be surprised then by a strong sense of a certain color, taste, smell, sound, or even the warmth or coldness of touch. For a further challenge, you might try meditating in silence for a few minutes about a particular photo and visualize how this setting provides a positive impact to your current emotional state now. Stay safe and healthy this summer. Namaste .