These days, we spend so much time trying to figure out what to do next, how to get as far as we can in all aspects of life, and how to make the best impact on the world or our immediate surroundings. We sit there analyzing situations, figuring out game plans, and reading endlessly to learn the maximum amount in the minimum amount of time. To get our brains to switch off from all the noise around us and inside our heads, we either spend every waking moment being productive or simply consuming mindless activities.
There’s always so much to see, so much to do, and so many places to go. We spend so much of our lives in transit – walking, driving, or sitting on public transport – simply for the sake of getting from A to B.
We stop seeing the things around us and are consumed by what’s on our screens. We laugh, we smile, and we absorb knowledge from the people furthest from us, ignoring those who are literally sitting by our side.
This is all of our lives today, it seems. And there’s nothing wrong with what we’re doing.
However, I just had a walk down my street. A walk with no particular purpose. One where you can venture down quiet streets for the sake of curiosity, just to see where they will take you.
One where there’s no timeframe or limits. One where you’re not Google mapping the quickest way to get there and counting down the minutes till you do. One where you are listening to music and seeing the different kind of life it brings to the ordinary world around you.
I stumbled across a secondhand bookshop along the way and wordlessly walked inside. I have a strange love for books, and just being there was an inspiration in itself. There’s something about secondhand books that brings a strange sense of familiarity and nostalgia, despite seeing everything for the very first time. The crease of the spine, the handwritten messages within, and the smell of the paper. The whole bookstore feels full of life – the lives written about in the books, the lives of the people who have run their thumb through those same pages, and the lives of those within the bookshop.
During the time I was there, I spoke to a singer wearing cat eye sunglasses and a black corset over a multicolored dress, a 70-year-old graphic designer who dabbled in illustration, and a literary college student looking for a new gem to read. A whole myriad of people living in different worlds from my own, yet somehow finding ourselves in the same place sharing the same interests and tastes. Books have a magical power to bring people together.
Once I changed my mindset from one focused on the destination to one that focused on the journey, the walk seemed to twist and turn along with it.
I noticed the blue skies, the orange leaves on the ground, the street art on the walls, and the lavender clusters of flowers in the trees. I saw people sitting outside the cafes alone or in pairs, just simply observing the world around them. Smells of greenery, clear skies, and freshly brewed coffee. It’s like seeing everything again for the first time, despite it always having been there.
We all love being constantly busy, thinking of our next goals and planning the steps we need to take to get there. All of this is what is required of us in everyday life.
But once in a while, it’s nice to step back from all of that — to try to rediscover the world around us and all it has to offer.
It’s nice to learn more about the people around us and to find the beauty in ordinary experiences. To hear more stories and be inspired by the things you never thought would do the trick.
And that is what I did today. I took a walk with no purpose, rhyme, or reason.
It’s made me realize how important it is to be curious, to keep learning, and to soak in the things around me — instead of zooming past them in my own bubble.
Take a walk – you never know what might happen when you do.
Shermaine Heng is an Aussie based in Berlin who’s chronically optimistic and sees the world through rose-tinted glasses. When she’s not working in marketing and communications, you’ll most likely find her writing endlessly, searching for handmade inspiration, or holding a book. She loves all things creative and tends to smile too much. Take a sneak peek into her life on her website and Instagram.