After a long flight across the Atlantic, I am a little sore and a little jet lagged. But I am not complaining. Barcelona is beautiful. The little town of Sitges, our home for the next week, is beautiful. Being with my family – my mom, my stepfather, my brothers, and my 7 – is beautiful.
But my body is slow to wake up this morning. After sitting and lying around yesterday trying to keep awake so that I would be able to have a solid sleep through the night, today I want to move.
I ask Ever-Patient what I should do this morning. A bodyweight circuit? Some resets? Maybe yoga?
He says, “Go for a walk.”
Right. Of course. I should have known. This is his go-to solution for everything. Need inspiration? Go for a walk. Need to blow off steam? Go for a walk. Feeling off? Go for a walk.
It’s not always easy to just get up and go. I like to walk with a plan and a purpose. Walking aimlessly has never really been my thing. I like to walk to get somewhere. Walking away from something and to something works for me but just getting up and going for the sake of the movement itself has always been a challenge for me.
But then I picked this book up from the library recently, On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz.
It’s like an ode to walking.
She walks around the block with 10 different people – specialists who offer a different insight into the walk around the block. For example, her first walk is with geologist, Sidney Horenstein, who spots a rock nearly 6 million years old. On another walk, she takes a stroll with sound designer, Scott Lehrer. The sounds of her city block come alive in an entirely new way.
Even taking an out-of-towner on a tour of your hometown or city, you appreciate details that you may have overlooked all your life.
Part of seeing what is on an ordinary block is seeing that everything visible has a history. It arrived at the spot where you found it at some time, was crafted or whittled or forged at some time, filled a certain role or existed for a particular function. It was touched by someone (or no one), and touches someone (or no one) now.
The other part of seeing what is on the block is appreciating how limited our own view is. We are limited by our sensory abilities, by our species membership, by our narrow attention—at least the last of which can be overcome. – Alexandra Horowitz, On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes
Apart from the health benefits, walking is a way to hone your observational skills, if you choose to let it. Today take a walk with a child or a dog and pay attention to what they see/hear/smell/touch from their vantage point. Take a walk with a friend and have them point out things to you. Take a walk in an unfamiliar and really explore it. Take a walk in your neighbourhood and try to spot 10 new things that you haven’t noticed before.
What allowed me to see the bits that I would have otherwise missed was not the expertise of my walkers, per se; it was their simple interest in attending. I selected these walkers for their ability to boost my own selective attention. An expert can only indicate what she sees; it is up to your own head to tune your senses and your brain to see it. Once you catch that melody, and keep humming, you are forever changed. -Alexandra Horowitz, On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes
Document what you see (or what they see) with a notepad or take pictures. You can even do a rough sketch because drawing really makes you see things. Make doodles of signs, people, items or interest. What haven’t you noticed before? What peaks your interest? What makes you want to look closer?
Look up. Look down. Look around corners and down alleys.
You can leave a comment below or join my top secret life explorers group on Facebook if you want to share any discoveries or explorations. Friend me and I will send you an invite! You can share your thoughts or your creative expressions there. You can also post on Instagram using #may_BE2015