Ways to See: The Way of the Flâneur
“To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world—impartial natures which the tongue can but clumsily define. The spectator is a prince who everywhere rejoices in his incognito.”
We had a bit of a lightbulb movement recently, the kind accompanied by imaginary little bells ringing and a big smile! The word "flâneur" recently fell into our sights and it struck a chord.
If case like us, you haven't come across it before, the term flâneur was conjured up by French poet Charles Baudelaire, who thought that the simple act of walking down the street is a dramatic adventure rich with ideas and sensory experiences and the flaneur is very much intune to this.
Flâneurs, according to Baudelaire, aren't always walking with aspecific purpose in mind, not always walking to go somewhere or get something. They are observing their environments with eyes wide open. They are "botanists of the pavement", perceptive of modern urban life. Passionate pedestrian spectators that notice things and relish what they discover.
Sound familiar? We highly recommend large doses flâneurism as often as you possibly can.
The candid photos on this post may not be Super Ordinary, in fact they seem quite the opposite. Yet, they are taken during 2 of my most mundane moments, the walk to work and the walk to collect my son from nursery. It's so easy to fall into complacency during these times, to just fall into autopilot and "get there". Yet if I had, then I would never have seen these curious of curious sights. And they made me smile
It is not only rewarding visually, but taking a leisurely stroll unencumbered by urgency, following your gut, feet or nose, whilst noticing things helps us refresh and restore us mentally too. Noticing things as you walk around is mental ambulation. It's a great way to clear away cobwebs, escape the doldrums and more. Even our most familiar streets can bring new inspiration.