Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum, so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.
Walden Woods, photo by Sam Scholes
If you’ve been reading my stuff for awhile, you probably know I’m a big fan of meandering. So I was very happy when I saw that today is World Sauntering Day. Sauntering is, of course, closely related to meandering.
I tend to think of sauntering as a leisurely progress in an urban environment, and meandering as more likely to occur while exploring the natural world, so I was somewhat surprised to find that Henry David Thoreau, a man world-famous for going off to live by himself in the woods, had said, “It is a great art to saunter.”
In fact, he seems to be a fan of the word:
“I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits,
unless I spend four hours a day at least –
and it is commonly more than that –
sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields,
absolutely free from all worldly engagements.”
– Henry David Thoreau
But saunter or meander, the message is clear:
Take a look around.
Catch your breath.
However, these are not such easy things to do in our modern pressure cooker, when many of us feel a twinge of guilt if we are only doing one thing, instead of multi-tasking. And the idea of wandering without a goal might cause some urbanites to hyperventilate.
Many workaholics die very quickly after retirement. It seems the sudden transition from a constant pressure to get more and more things done, to having “nothing to do” is a contributing factor.
I am one of those people who like keeping busy. I want to feel I’m useful, and I need a challenge to keep me going. But when I do take a break, I love having only a few ideas about what I might do, and nothing that I have to do. For it really not to matter whether we arrive at 2 PM or 5 PM, because something intriguing popped up along the way, and we lingered to check it out.
“Work Hard, Play Hard” sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. So start today a little bit easier, take a few minutes to saunter, or meander, whichever you prefer, on a virtual walk in the woods.