virtualDavis

\ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs\ Blogger, storyteller, flâneur. G.G. Davis, Jr's alter ego…
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Mindfulness and Flânerie

Just another listless dreamer...

New Yorker marginalia by virtualDavis via Flickr

Linda Hollier’s Mindfulness and The Flâneur examines a topic near and dear to my heart, soul and senses: flânerie.

I’m honored to be mentioned and grateful because she inspired me to update my Metro Flaneur post with a list of my favorite flanerie miscellanea. But ego and overdue “housekeeping” are just the tip of the iceberg.

Ms. Hollier (@lindahollier) is positing an insight that intuitively resonates truth to me, but which I’ve never before heard.

Speed, whether online or offline, is a characteristic of the modern world. The flâneur reminds us to set the pace of our own lives.

Cast as a character in the 21st century drama of life, the flâneur thus begins to play the role of consciousness. (here2here)

Amen. The pace and the scope. Flânerie demands an elasticity of time and space. Freedom to meander, to lose oneself in the other, perhaps even to become the other without fully detaching from self. For a while.

Anthropologist Grant McCracken reflection on Joy Walking comes to mind.

It’s a little like joy riding, except we’re not stealing cars, we’re stealing moments. Joy walking happens when we leave the house or office and start walking. We don’t have a plan. We just go… We step in and out of people’s lives. Couples in love, couples at war…  The tiny courtesies and rudenesses of public life… The key is to get out and about. To get away. To see what you can see. Steal a moment. Make it your own. (PsychologyToday.com)

Ms. Hollier’s suggestion that flânerie and conscioussness may overlap is intriguing, an idea worth passing along to my mother who’s a student of Buddhism and a proponent of mindfulness. Let’s see if I can get her to weigh in. Stay tuned.

Off to meander the digital meadow with the mingling masses…

Update:

Great news. My mother, Melissa Davis, shared her impression. Thanks, mom! Here’s what the wise lady thinks:

Mindfulness, flaneuring and turtles

Reading this after an abbreviated mindful yoga session with Jon K-Z (on tape), I am delighted to chime in. Linda Hollier’s reference to turtles on leashes reminds me of walking with a 2- or 3-year old, a great flaneur opportunity. I recently grandparented my 3-year old granddaughter for a week which required walking her to preschool and back in Georgetown, a fascinating place where equipment and men with shovels were digging up the ancient trolley tracks. Took us forever – which was as good as it gets – even better than a turtle because she had a couple of feet more within her purview AND she asked questions!

Years ago I read a NYTimes op ed that shared the unscientific findings of a city dweller observing adults accompanying small children around a neighborhood in Manhattan. She reported that the majority of them pushed strollers which ensured timely arrivals wherever the adult was headed. She contrasted them with the handful of adults who walked – meandered – alongside their youngsters, stopping to examine every interesting flower or bit of flotsam along the way. She pointed out that there was nothing more important for a child that age to do than poke along – and through – every curiosity.

I think flaneuring is like drawing, something we are born with but that schedules and school steal from us. I agree that mindfulness – being totally present in the moment – goes hand in hand (or leash) with flaneuring. I am not surprised that so many people wonder if they ate, lose their keys, forget names, obsess about how stressed they are given the mindless speed that propels them through their days. A little daily flaneuring would sort them right out! (Melissa Davis)

Amen! Way to go, mom. Just goes to show that my decision to meander the digital meadow with the mingling masses yesterday restored the cosmic balance, inspiring my mother to opine. Perhaps I should meander the soggy non-digital meadow this afternoon?

Related articles:

A Little Peace

“Peace is most likely to happen when we are able to drop our notions of defending our own, separate ‘selves’ and can release into trusting the interconnected nature of life.” (Integral Buddha)

Letting go. Laying aside our egos and self interests and defences. Trusting is of course the most difficult part for many of us. Fear. Experience. Caution. Stand in the way. But going deeper, a memory of the connectedness, of the shared humanity. Part of all that. A different sort of trust. But the wariness still tickles my sensitive underbelly…

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My Life as a Creek

Why do I love Twitter? Let me count the ways… Okay, there are some Twitter cons (ie: a tempting time suck!) but the Twitter pros so totally outweigh them. There’s a fascinating sort of rhizomic community building that is unique from Facebook, Google Buzz, etc. But there’s something more compelling and yet more ellusive: the “twitter stream”. Sure, this reference gets bandied about in a variety of ways, and maybe some of the water metaphor’s sex appeal has been diluted along the way, but nobody seems to have coined a more apt alternative.

In just such an aqua-twitter mood the other day, I retweeted this: “just to drift… to be like a river…it is so important!” (RT @t2van via @conscire) Familiar allusions. Not earth shattering. Just a feeling, a yearning sent out into the either that resonated with others, that for a few brief seconds connected strangers. A common dream, a shared aspiration.

Shortly thereafter I received this response from Laura Munson(@Lauramunson):

“Read the Jim Harrison poem, Cabin Poem. Much to say about rivers in just a few perfect words.” ~ Laura Munson

It was Friday afternoon and I was headed off to opening night of Mrs. Farnsworth in Saranac Lake. I was running lines in my mind, driving through the Adirondack’s High Peaks. I wasn’t tweeting. Not much anyway! And I didn’t have time to look for Jim’s Harrison’s “Cabin Poem”. This morning I did. With two performances complete, and a tsunami of family and houseguests moving back out to sea, I’ve had time to sit down at my desk and begin catching up. And in the midst of catching up, I rememberd Laura’s recommendation, so I Googled Jim Harrison’s, “Cabin Poem” and read the brief but reflective poetry. Then reread it. Again and again. Then pushed my seat back from my cluttered desk and walked across my study to an arm chair, warm in the morning sun, and settled in to ponder while listening to the waves crashing against our dock house beyond the open window…

I’ve decided to make up my mind 
about nothing, to assume the water mask, 
to finish my life disguised as a creek, 
an eddy, joining at night the full, 
sweet flow, to absorb the sky, 
to swallow the heat and cold, the moon 
and the stars, to swallow myself
in ceaseless flow.
Jim Harrison, Cabin Poem

The strong Buddhist undertone aside, don’t you hear the Twitter overtone? I’ve certainly allowed myself to be swallowed in Twitter’s “ceaseless flow” more times than I care to keep track of. Which takes us back to where I started, to the pros and cons of this curious phenomenon called Twitter. It can be a tempting time suck. Yes. And sometimes that’s what we want and/or need, even when we resist admitting it. Swimming in a massive conversation about ideas that interest us, that connect us with others who are interested, interesting, challenging, educating, inspiring. Submitting to the “sweet flow”…

If you’re new to Twitter (or puffing out your chest for resisting that pointless waste of time) then you might not have had the opportunity to evaluate the rewards, the sheer joy of the sort of tweetalogue I’ve just recounted. Clearly Laura Munson, who I’ve never met, feels otherwise. And I’m grateful and richer for it! Thanks for guiding me to this insightful poem.

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