I often find myself wandering at night. I enjoy walking upon the evening streets. The energy is different, a different ambiance.
I like looking up at street lights and watching how they cast light on nearby buildings. I like that street lights are much more noticeable, casting their light deviously. I like the mysterious people in the distance scuttling here and there amongst shadows. I like the cold and how it forces me to wear my layers, my mittens.
Wandering encourages me to observe in an acute way that missions don’t allow. No time frame, just head space.
Often you’ll find me wandering with my camera. Imagine me walking about wherever I am, stopping to turn over rocks, to crouch down and observe a tiny bug, to observe the nooks of a tree, to take a smell of a shrub I think I can identify. I like both macro and micro. I like seeing a row of houses that remind me of an era, or great stone buildings that make me feel like I’m in Europe. I like recognizing how old a forest is by the foliage upon the ground.
When I find myself in a new area, I eventually wander in enough directions that I have a pretty good, intimate knowledge of what’s around me. I like this. I take inventory. I find the cafes and the little markets. I find the park benches, and the most perfect places to sit and think. I find the sculptures and empty bike locks, locked to a lonely post.
I’ve learned about the power of walking meditation, and I think this has something to do with why I enjoy wandering so much. Wandering is exercise. Some nights I’ll wander for a good few hours. I feel hiking is a form of wandering, and I enjoy hiking quite a bit, too.
I remember many years ago my family was camped in Parksville. The people next to us had big backpacks and hiking shoes on, and my folks started a friendly conversation with them. They exclaimed how the area had some beautiful hiking trails, and they were just heading out into the woods for the day. I had never hiked at that time; I played sports. I walked to play the sports, through forests or on paths, but never packed a bag with some snacks and wandered into the forest for the day.
Seems funny looking back on how odd and interesting I thought it was that they just walked into the forest without a snowboard or skiis, or a bike, or climbing gear.. just a map maybe and faith in some trail markers.
Now that’s me, I’m the one people find funny.