Friday, July 2, 2010

Life is a Mystery Walk

When I travel to a foreign city, I take mystery walks. I leave the guidebook and map in the hotel room, walk out the door, notice something that draws my attention such as a dome climbing skyward, a curving street lined with shops or a bridge spanning a waterway. I move toward what calls me and let the shapes, colors, textures and sounds flow into my senses. I notice how the design supports the activities of people going about their day. I scan the walls and roof eaves for carvings of human faces, animals, plants and geometric patterns. In the forms, I sense the hopes and fears of those who made them and connect with the consciousness of the past flowing through the present into the future.

I explore the first place that called me until I sense a doorway, stairway or some other feature of the city drawing my attention. I engage that place until the next place calls. Wandering from place to place, the city comes alive. It speaks to me directly without the filters of historic names and dates. I enter a personal relationship with the city, one that can’t be encountered through the screen of a guidebook or tour.

After a while, I sit at a cafĂ©, park bench or stone steps of an old building. I recall the places I’ve just passed through, noticing the images and forms that figure prominently in my awareness. It may be faces or the geometry of circles carved around doorways. I might be signs in shop windows or footsteps on cobblestones. I look for threads connecting these experiences. Weaving back and forth through my awareness, a theme appears. The connecting strand could be threshold crossing, the overlap of nature and architecture, labyrinth-like movement of the path… I see how this theme relates to the questions and concerns I’m currently facing and listen for the insights and guidance it is offering.

I scan at the city before me and perceive the living, speaking consciousness interacting with itself through the people, objects, streets and buildings. I see the walk I just took as a continuation of my journey through this world and appreciate it all as one long mystery walk.


  1. This would be a good practice at home, although a bit harder, because at home we have distractions. It could help us see our environment more clearly. Thanks for the thoughtful post. Janine

  2. Lovely post. Makes me want to travel. Or look at my current surroundings with new eyes.

  3. I do the same in any city I visit, foreign or U.S. I just go walking and see what I find and where I end up. I've been lost in Amsterdam, discovered a whole neighborhood of shops in Paris, found new architecture in Chicago, and the list goes on.