I think about wandering a lot and I think the concept should be a part of everyone’s lives.
“Wandering” as an idea seems tied up in a concept of aimless movement. “Leisurely” and “casual” come up in all definitions of the word. But this process of being free of intention is far from aimless. I submit that it is completely possible for me to intentionally be free of intentionality. I can willfully give in to unwillingness.
That is what wandering is. I say to myself that I will walk from here to there and experience whatever I may. I choose to have an experience I did not necessarily choose to have.
And it is an important thing to do. Religions and spiritualities all over the world tell stories of wandering. Jesus’ temptation in the Judaean Desert, indigenous Australians’ “walkabout”, or the Hajj of Islam to name a few. All of these religions’ texts speak of self discovery or overcoming demons as the reason for these trips.
I have believed for some time that everything I do that is worthwhile can boil down to two things: 1) finding strength and 2) sharing it with other people. Wandering is part of finding that strength. It is a process of clearing away space so that experiences can find their way in.
And it doesn’t always have to happen while walking. One can wander, for example, through a poem. Or a piece of music, or an art museum, or a book, or a grocery store, or a TV show, or even a brick wall. To name a specific instance, someone like John Cage could sit in an anechoic chamber and stare at the wall and have an experience profound enough to be discussed in thousands of writings around the globe.
Wandering is a momentary suspension of intention and expectation. I walk into a concert hall not knowing what I will hear. Or press a play button on a track I saw on twitter somewhere. Or take a step into a wood. For that matter, I might take a step right out my door. Maybe I meet someone new.
And I don’t judge the situation yet. I wait to see what I might see and experience whatever happens. And maybe something happens that teaches me something. Maybe something that gives me an opportunity to better myself. Or something that gives me strength.
And then I have to start working to share that experience with other people in some communicable way.