Recently my buddy Steve sent me a chunk of a blog post from an author we both follow over at Raptitude.com:
To select a destination, I use an obscure app called Randonautica, which creates an X-marker somewhere on a map of the city. The app’s “About” section says it chooses this location through “theoretical mind-matter interaction paired with quantum entropy to test the strange entanglement of consciousness with observable reality.” It says the app’s users, when they arrive at their prescribed locations, often find “serendipitous experiences that seemingly align with their thoughts.”
He thought it seemed like an app I’d enjoy – and he wouldn’t be wrong, but really I do it without the app. I can see how in larger cities/metro areas the app might be fun though. I’m know sometimes I tend to hit the same spots/routes out of habit or subconsciously without realizing it.
Most days/times when I head out for a bike ride lately, I have no destination in mind. Sometimes I’m meeting someone somewhere in the middle, but that’s about it. I just pedal and see where I go. I take turns I’ve never taken. I check out places I’ve never gone. ‘It’s a goalless practice.’
And the key is once you get to those places to stop – and as David mentions in his blog post – check things out. There is – quite simply – so much to behold no matter where you are – whether you’ve been there already or not. The Universe is pretty cool that way.
Related, after following along for several years now, I dig that David rides bikes too. No wonder much of what we think/experience jives. More people on bikes is only a good thing.
In the past few months, I’ve been taking a lot more walks. I take a short one almost everyday after my morning zoom call/meeting with work, usually only 20-25 minutes or so, but I’ve been taking longer ones too. I’m fortunate that I can walk right out my back door into almost wilderness – unfortunately it’s being developed for houses – but there’s still some nooks and crannies you can sneak into and feel like there’s no one around for miles.
I often stop somewhere and sit and just look around. See how many things I can notice. Count various critters seen. Wonder about the type of trees or why leaves change a particular color. Lately I’ve stopped taking pictures, no matter how good the scenery – it’s really just about that moment.
A recent study has identified another beneficial ingredient of walking: the emotion of awe. … The researchers believe awe reduces self-preoccupation, promotes connection with others, and fosters pro-social behavior. It does make sense that feeling the vast scale and mystery of nature’s processes might make the human brain less consumed by worries about housing markets and doctor’s appointments. … You don’t need to have Yosemite in your backyard to find awe. A single tree is awesome, in the word’s true sense. It’s a towering plant that grew from a sprout, making wood out of sunlight, spreading tendrils through the ground beneath you, at speeds slower than stillness but with sidewalk-buckling force. It stands there every night, and every day, performing this mysterious and unstoppable work. There are billions of them, and if you give them enough time they’ll cross continents.
I often look around and find myself thinking, “so much of what is here is older than me. So much will still be here when I’m gone.” It doesn’t come from a morbid place, but one of, well, awe. That these things are so complex and resilient and incidentally, don’t give two shits about me and my trite problems. It’s very humbling and liberating. Having just finished reading David Suzuki and Wayne Grady’s Tree: A Life Story has probably helped. Never mind that I didn’t understand half of the biology – it still gave me new insight into the complexity of the earth and its creatures as well as the interconnectivity of all things. It couldn’t have been a better primer for autumn walks.