“Look, mom, the lady is going on holiday!” a little girl exclaims when she sees me riding my overloaded bike, moving the last pieces of my luggage to my new life.
Last year, as I was moving house, I decided I would live my life as a traveler. I mean every day, even when I am in the city I live in, all caught up in my daily routine. More often than not, I forget about my decision and spend too many of my days wanting to be somewhere else, waiting for the next trip, the next adventure and forgetting to be curious about where I am now, to be an explorer, a discoverer of beauty and of stories.
Yesterday was a rainy day, but I put my camera in my backpack along with the stuff I usually take with me to school and I took it out on my walk back home. As I was shooting photos (not yet on manual mode, unfortunately), I started thinking that we tend to treat our town the way we treat our bodies.
Let me explain. We’ve lived with our own body for a while now. We were born with it. The time of wonder, exploration, discovery and awe has passed for many of us. We have got used to it. We know its secrets, we know its flaws and we know its best parts. We have seen it all, pretty much. So we just carry it around, we are no longer curious about it, it’s become purely functional.
We do the same with our city. We know everything we need to know about it. We know what we like, what we don’t like, we know the shortest route to work, that restaurant where we used to go on anniversaries, the park where we broke that heart, the street where we lost our earrings, the shop where we bought those great shoes, the pub where we took control of the playlist and danced like we owned the place, that cozy bookshop. We know how the streets are flooded when it rains, the traffic jams, the sound of leaves cracking under our feet, the unbearable heat in the summer and everything else there is to know. It just cannot surprise us anymore. So we switch over to auto pilot, we mind our own thoughts, we make plans, remember things, chant mantras and what not as we’re walking down these familiar streets.
On the other hand, when we are in a new place, all senses awaken. Just like when we are exploring another body. The auto pilot is suddenly switched off and we become alive and curious and involved. We look, we search, we taste, we feel, we take risks, ask for directions, talk to the locals, learn words in the new language etc. That’s how I want to live in my own town. I want to feel alive in it. Offer it my attention, my respect and my love. And do the same for my body. Especially since I do not have permanent residency in either.
Take a walk with me around Harmony Street: