…journeys of self-discovery?
I’m in Europe this fall, using Prague as home base for a series of solo adventures abroad while Mike does his grown-up things. I’m living, in other words, the freaking dream, and am almost painfully aware that this is the best thing ever.
All 3 of these side-adventures are centred around walking. It’s a bit hard to explain why I’d rather walk (FAR) than sit on a beach or go to museums or whatever you’re supposed to do when the world (or at least a whole continent) is your oyster. I mean, I love those things (especially museums – oh god I love museums so much), but they’re not what I need right now. What I need is a nice long walk and a nice long think; somewhere around 400 km of walking and thinking, ideally.
At the top of this page, under my name, you can see the words ‘flâneuse’ and ‘boulevardière’. Great words (and near-synonyms, so I only have to give one explanation), used to describe 19th-century Parisian dandies who would walk around the city, people-watching intently. They got a certain intellectual fulfillment from this, which allowed them to feel superior to those other losers who would just walk around the city…vacuously people-watching? I paraphrase Wikipedia here. I like the idea of the flâneur, anyway, and learned to enjoy Toronto more over the past few years as I walked all over it and came to know its people and places slowly and at ground level. (Beats me why flâneurs restricted themselves to the urban landscape, though; nature is at least as interesting as people, and better yet, it’s *so much slower*.)
That slow pace, the gradual unveiling of each successive setting or landmark or vista, is singularly conducive to thinking. I mean, you know that. We all go for walks (or equivalent) to clear our heads when things get jumbled. A good number of us always keep a notebook close at hand, too, because ideas have an annoying habit of popping up while we’re out and about.
Walking is both peaceful and stimulating. I’m rarely happier than when stomping around somewhere, alone with my thoughts, absorbing each new sight with quiet elation. I love stepping away from the real world for a bit and letting ideas drift in and out without any need to force things along. I’m most myself, and most in touch with myself, when walking. And if I’ve got to reinvent myself or whatever it is I’m doing right now, I’m going to need to walk A LOT. Preferably in really beautiful places with tasty food and drink to end each day.
So. I just did a week-and-a-half in England, walking the Dorset half of the Jurassic Coast; I’ve got some mountain hikes in northern Italy coming up next week; and then I’ll be strolling through Provence in early December. BRING IT.
[By the way – you obviously won’t just hear about boring old thinking. Very little about that, in fact, since it’s boring. I’m also here for good times and adventure, and will post some highlights from Dorset (which was AMAZING HOLY CRAP) soon.]