I think we are all aware these days that going for regular walks, where ever, is good for us, both physically and mentally. It’s very easy for me to get off my backside go for my two daily walks as I have a large dog, who will not let me off the hook, especially as we do not have a garden. At the appointed and exact time of day, she alternately stares at me, up close and personal, with unblinking brown eyes, or if that doesn’t work, she nudges my arm forcibly with her long snout. Sometimes she just whinges like a two year old toddler, whatever her chosen tactic if I’m tardy, she’s very efficient, after all she is a German Shepherd.
If you don’t have a dog or young children to exercise, getting motivated to go out into a neighbourhood you think you know by heart, can be a far more challenging affair. Although, most of the world is in lockdown at the moment, here in France, we are allowed to walk our pets, within a one mile radius of our home.
What I suggest, is to go for a themed walk.
I didn’t come up with this idea myself, as I have my own 32 kg personal motivator. It comes from a delightful book “The Art of Noticing” by Rob Walker (around 22$ or 30€). The exercises encourage mindfulness and can provide a brief respite from our worries.
From Penguin Random House:
ABOUT THE ART OF NOTICING
An imaginative, thought-provoking gift book to awaken your senses and attune them to the things that matter in your life.
Welcome to the era of white noise. Our lives are in constant tether to phones, to email, and to social media. In this age of distraction, the ability to experience and be present is often lost: to think and to see and to listen.
Enter Rob Walker’s The Art of Noticing. This gorgeously illustrated volume will spark your creativity–and most importantly, help you see the world anew. Through a series of simple and playful exercises–131 of them–Walker maps ways for you to become a clearer thinker, a better listener, a more creative workplace colleague and finally, to rediscover your sense of passion and to notice what really matters to you.
One of the first suggestions in the book is to choose to search for a particular thing on your walk. This may be a colour, a number, security cameras, whatever. You can just take note mentally of what you find or if you want to make a habit of this, you can jot them down, photograph them or even make a rough sketch.
* For parents of young, or even not so young children, a themed walk can be presented as a treasure hunt. And in this time of worldwide confinement, you could even play this is an inside game. If you want to make an indoors treasure hunt last, I suggest you ask your children to sketch the things they have to find.
Over several days, I played at looking for blue things on my solitary daily walks and of course, I photographed them with my phone …..
From top left clockwise:
1. Blue shutters.
The colour we can paint our shutters in the village is restricted by law. We’re allowed particular shades of blue, grey, green or white. The predominant colour is blue :).
2. A car license plate, from département 64, Pyrénées-Atlantiques.
It used to be compulsory to identify where your vehicule was licensed with the number of your département. This is no longer the case, but I think most people are rather attached to this tradition. However, if you are immatriculé 75, Paris, you are likely to get short shrift from other drivers when you are no longer in the city. Parisian drivers are notoriously aggressive or is that just another urban legend?
3. A beer bottle cap, Tequila flavoured.
4. A detail of a blue shutter that has seen slightly better days.
From top left clockwise:
These ones are all a bit hazy, i the early morning light.
1. An ancient door with its traditional enamel blue house number.
2. I’ve no idea what you might call this. It is too small to call it a man hole cover, a man’s hand could barely fit in it. It gives access to something to do with the water mains system.
3. A bit of a homemade For Sale sign, “A Vendre”, next to the previously mentionned ancient door.
4. Tess’ blue collar and lots of hair.
From top left clockwise:
1. The village coat of arms on a street name sign.
This is the coat of arms of Jeanne de Morainvillier, who owned the land in the 1600s. The two hands joined represents Faith and the family of Vic. The merlettes, small birds without beaks or legs, represent the Morainvillier family.
2. A blue tag on a telephone pole.
3. My neighbour’s Rosemary flowers.
4. Beehives in a village garden next to the fields.
I walk passed all these things several times a week, if not everyday, and rarely noticed many of them. I love to look at and touch the flowers, my Tess, living things, but I can’t say I’ve ever gazed in wonder at door numbers. Now however, I’ve started a new lockdown photo project to document the different door numbers in my village, since I’m allowed to go out to walk Tess in a radius of 1km.
In the introduction to his book, Rob Walker quotes Susan Sontag, the late and great American writer, filmmaker, philosopher, teacher, and political activist, when she was speaking to a young audience about the creative process, but also about day to day living,
Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. It’s all about taking in as much of what is out there as you can, and not letting the excuses and the dreariness of some of the obligations you’ll soon be incurring, narrow your lives. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.
I think we can all do with some reasons for eagerness in our lives right now and some respite, all be it brief, from worry.
Here are some more suggestions from the first chapter of “The Art of Noticing” and there are 131 ways to discover everyday joy in the book:
- Take A Colour Walk.
- Start A Collecton of objects or photos/sketches of : numbers, manhole covers, street corners, geometric shapes, footprints, leaves, scraps of paper ….
- Document the Seemingly Identical: telephone poles, closeup, tree trunks, windows, leaves ….
- Look Up at: chimneys, roof tops, tree tops, cloud shapes ….
If you decide to go for a themed walk or indoor treasure hunt, I’d love to hear about it. Don’t hesitate to send me a message by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or comment below.
Thank you for visiting.
Stay Safe, Stay Sane,