The Pleasure of Wandering

Black and white photo of stacks in a library

Last Saturday morning, my husband asked if I wanted to drive to a nearby town and have breakfast.  I glanced at my to-do list and replied that I had too much on my plate for the weekend and would rather just stay home and start on my chores.

One of those tasks was to replace a perpetually leaking tire on my car, so at about 11:00 AM, we drove together to the tire shop.  By the time we left, I needed to eat something (pregnancy hunger can be sudden and intense).  Rather than swinging through a fast food drive through lane, we decided to stop by a downtown coffee shop that we rarely visit.  Though they had healthier options, I indulged in a delicious cinnamon roll and a chai latte.

As we sipped our coffees and talked about life, I glanced around the room at the art that was for sale: canvas-printed nature photos of wolves and mountains, and handmade mugs imprinted with clever sayings.  I took in the music that was playing and inadvertently eavesdropped on conversations taking place at nearby tables.

When we finished our drinks, I decided I wasn’t quite ready to go home.  I suggested that we stroll over to the local library.  We bought our house in this community a little over two years ago, but we still hadn’t obtained library cards.  We gave our information to the woman at the circulation desk, got our cards, and proceeded to wander around the library.  We started with the basement, where the city archives are held.  We read fun facts about local history (which neither of us knew, being transplants to this area) and looked at photos from many decades past.

We visited climbed the stairs to the children’s area, exploring the play room and books that will be available to our son when he arrives.  We watched a grandfather and granddaughter play with trains and trucks on one of those tables that contains a model town. Then we wandered up to an area on the top floor where there were file cabinets containing microfilm versions of old newspapers.  We meandered through the reference section to the religion and philosophy stacks and whispered about the topics of some of the books we saw.

I love libraries, yet it had been so long since I’d explored one.  I was reminded of the hours I’d spent in my home-town library in my youth, conducting research for school papers and perusing magazines in the reading room.  I thought about various times in my life when I’d allowed myself hours to wander around book stores, looking for nothing in particular, allowing my interests and the books on the shelves to guide me.

When we left the library, I looked to my left and wondered about the identity of a certain building.  Rather than heading back to the car, I walked over to the building and around to its façade to investigate.  We walked past a park, where a number of people were sitting on benches and spread out on blankets on this beautiful day.  I smiled at these strangers and neighbors as we passed by.  We walked by boutiques and galleries, commenting on new businesses and some that had closed up shop.

This spontaneous stroll turned what could have been a boring, task-driven Saturday into something much more enjoyable.  Wandering without an agenda, observing the world around me with all my senses, and exploring new places is one of the things I love most about traveling, but these pleasures aren’t limited to vacations.  We can build them into our everyday lives, enhancing our sense of community, encouraging ourselves to live in the present, sparking our creativity, and connecting with the world around us.

This weekend, I encourage you to set aside your to-do list for a few hours and spend some time wandering.  Skip a workout or leave the cleaning and gardening for another day.  Get out of your house and away from your computer.  Leave your phone in your pocket or bag and look around you.  Pop into whatever space or event grabs your interest.  Smile at the people you pass and strike up a conversation or two.  You may be surprised by where the day takes you.

There will always be more chores, work, and emails.  But it’s too easy to let these things drag you through life without really appreciating your surroundings and the magic they hold.  So today, go explore a little.  Stoke your sense of wonder.  And afterwards, write to me about your experience.

Have a lovely weekend!

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2 thoughts on “The Pleasure of Wandering

  1. I love to wander (hence the title of my blog). Wandering can take you amazing places. Through my wanderings, I have met some interesting people, had some incredible experiences, and traveled to some fascinating places. I will often just wander through the city (walking or driving) on a Saturday or Sunday with no particular direction in mind. I highly recommend it – it’s great advice.

  2. Oh! this is right on for me! I’m always under a schedule for training, work, and social life, that I don’t take the time to wander around. I’ve had family at home for over a month now, and this weekend, I commented that we haven’t really spend quality time together, everything have been under a agenda, activities, dinners, shopping, etc just doing stuff, that are leaving us empty… thank you for this great reminder!

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