When I moved to London I started spending every Saturday on long, pointless walks.
At first it was just a cheap way to see my new home. I’d set a vague destination, maybe an art gallery or cafe, and I’d meander my way there along whatever route my legs took me.
After awhile it became a regular thing. Even when I got a smartphone I’d still deliberately not look up a route, or at least not an optimal one. You see, I had come to realise it was the journey and not the destination that was impor… (sound of a blunt object making contact with my head).
There is something almost revolutionary about taking a long walk with no planned route and maybe no fixed destination, if it’s not too much to call wild inefficiency a revolution. I mean, it almost certainly is but here we are.
When are we ever not going somewhere?
With all the tools at our disposal, walking without knowing where you’re going is like baking without a recipe or showing up at a cinema and just watching whatever movie’s showing next. Stupid. A frownable offence, followed by a tsk.
It’s the kind of stupid digital tools have all but weeded out (unlike the ones they actively weaponise), and the kind of stupid that, applied correctly, is good, because sometimes stupids are smarts and there’s no talking me out of this.
Because we spent so much money to get there, most of my recent trip to Japan was heavily planned. Go here, see this, experience that, each day a Tetrised schedule of pre-bought tickets. We saw a lot of stuff we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
When we returned to Tokyo to fly back, I spent part of an afternoon just walking. I had a nominal destination and a general sense of direction. And it was perfect.
The best stories from all my trips always involve getting a little lost, being a little unsure. (My favourite Japan story of all time, even more favourite than Japanese Ian McKellen, involves going into the wrong station in Tokyo and then having to go back out, a ridiculously common occurrence. We explained to the man at the counter that we’d made a mistake, and he said, “Hmmm, hmmm. Me steak.” And then, as each person handed him their card, the pause and nod. “Me steak. Me steak.”)
Anyway, take a long pointless walk.