The Art of Wandering

On the Go

Navyo shows a small selection of images captured in the manner of the flâneur, the perfect mood for taking stunning photos ‘on the go’.

Flânerie, “that aimless Parisian compromise between laziness and activity,” as wrote Edmund White.

It seems that my travels around Europe have found their niche. How appropriate that I discovered this while in Paris.

According to Lauren Elkin, the flâneur is a 19th-century phenomenon, a figure of privilege and leisure, with the time and money to amble around the city at will. He is both part of and separate from the urban spectacle, both actor and observer.

Wedding Selfie: Piazza Grande, Arezzo, Italy - These newlyweds took a selfie just as the sun was going down. Their guests were noticeably absent, which made the image.
Company: Piazza Garibaldi, Cortona, Italy -  I was passing by one misty morning and there they were, perfectly framed overlooking the plains of Tuscany.
Reflection: Hotel Noblesse, Lucca, Italy - The receptionist was making a call and from where I was standing it looked like a painting.
Dogs: Via Toledo, Naples, Italy - This man walking 8 dogs stopped to chat with a group of women. It seemed such a fitting statement for Naples, which is all about statements and connection.
Christmas Selfie: Lake Trasimeno, Passignano, Italy - This rowdy group stopped for a selfie on Christmas day while some friends and I were having caffè.
Morning Light: Perugia, Italy - I turned around and saw this woman framed in the arch, catching the morning light. Her colours matched perfectly.
Morning Caffè: Perugia, Italy - This woman takes a last sip before going to work.
Vanity: Salon Michel Harem, Rome, Italy - This man was having his hair dyed. I didn't see him at first, and then I thought he was a mannequin. It was a bizarre sight.
Conversation: Piazza del Fico, Rome, Italy - These two captured the moment and symbolized café life in Rome.
Parasols: Piazza Campidoglio, Rome, Italy - These wedding guests are just about to welcome the bride and groom. The timing was perfect.
More Dogs: Via Urbana, Rome, Italy - I looked up and saw these three watching all of us below. They begged for a photo.
Reading: The Pantheon, Rome, Italy - I found her in the shade behind the Pantheon, taking a rest from all that walking.
Waiting: Toulouse, France - Texting on a street corner, she was made for a photograph.

Having meandered the Marais and other districts of Paris lately, I can attest that my position is both involved and aloof. This dual perspective is necessary for creating the prose that will translate the experience for the reader. The ability to get inside of life and yet be witness to it is, to those familiar with meditation, a spiritual approach. Applying this to the self is one thing, but applying it to the world around us is another matter entirely.

To do this, to be a flâneur formidable, I have to become empty and allow myself to wander without agenda, without direction. I have to allow life to take me, allow the city to take me. It’s from this space that experience arises and I become the actor and the observer, engaging yet witnessing.

Flânerie is the art of wandering aimlessly, being available to what happens – and then writing about it.

But it’s not restricted to Paris. I first experienced this in Rome, where I would step out my front door and say, “Rome, take me.” This attitude of let-go, of being a channel for physical space, for the spirit of a city to direct my movements became my meditation. I would wander not aimlessly in the purposeless sense, but in the sense of being guided.

It’s this space “between laziness and activity,” that opens one up to experience life in a way that a mind filled with schedules and agendas does not. I found myself to be much more present, more available to life and the people around me, more fine-tuned, more connected.

So now when I walk around a city, even if I have a plan of visiting a certain museum, I adopt the state of the flâneur – the actor and the observer. It’s a wonderful, relaxed feeling and allows me to be in the world, but not of it.

And I don’t restrict myself to writing about it. Recording the moments of flânerie in the photographic image makes for exceptional subject matter. There are shots that would have taken so much to stage that have simply appeared before my eyes. And then they are gone. It’s this ephemeral quality of the flâneur that contains the spiritual practice, the ability to be in the moment, engaged, connected and non-attached as it passes away.

The photographs above are a small selection of images captured in the manner of the flâneur. Enjoy and please let me know if you would ever like to join me on an aimless wander. Stopping for un café, of course.

NavyoNavyo is a regular contributor to this magazine

More articles by this author on Osho News

Comments are closed.