Let's start with some basic definitions.
The Flaneur 🚶♀️
From french meaning: wanderer, stroller.
Also means "to walk without a clear end in sight". Or to walk in order to think/organize ideas.
Ever heard of the power walk when you have lots of problems in your mind, so you solve them during a light stroll with no destination in mind? If not you gotta try it.
The Tourist 🛩️
Someone with a clear end in sight.
Tourists spend their days and nights planning to have fun in a specific location for a specific length of time in a very controllable environment that is thought to maximize fun/time.
In other words, a very boring person.
The key difference between tourists and flaneurs is how one deal with the unexpected.
If someone embraces it and goes with the flow, enjoying whatever life throws at them, they are a bon vivant(know how to live).
On the other hand, if someone needs something to be perfect to enjoy themselves, this person becomes very controlling and lacking in spontaneity.
And it is spontaneity that gives life its flavor.
Someone that is a flaneur strolls around a new city looking at things with no clear objective in point and lets their creative juices dictate what to do next.
The tourist tends to end up in a position where any new unplanned scenario will ruin their day/vacation.
Now, why would you put yourself in that situation? Where a single outcome will dictate whether you will enjoy yourself or not?
Being a flaneur means rolling with the punches, being Anti Fragile to life, and welcoming the unplanned surprises life throws at you.
As in science as in life, controlled environments soon become sterile, and absent of life and joy.
What we can learn from Tourists
Now there are very valid points made by tourists, one being a security concern over just strolling in a place you don't know.
And that is why it's useful to know someone in the city you are spending your holidays in. So you can avoid going into dangerous parts of it.
But other than the safety issue, I find very few arguments in favor of tourism vs flaneurism to be convincing.
Are you having unplanned fun or forcing yourself to enjoy an artificial experience?
I take unplanned fun every step of the way.
And this bleeds into my approach to consuming content, or studying subjects, I choose subjects and books guided by my curiosity, and not read something because it's "the book to read this year". Or to fulfill some sort of magical "Book List to read by March 25th" or something.
I'd rather take the approach to follow my curiosity, and if the book or course is really good, I'd rather not find a way to quickly go through it. I'd much prefer to find ways to enjoy it slowly and prolong the experience.
I do know that we live in a very fast-paced world, and sometimes you're going to need to study a certain topic because it's needed by your job/school/university, or even if you want to change careers, you'll find yourself needing to go through a lot of material fast and efficiently. And if do have kids, it might be useful to set hard rules for when it's playtime and when it isn't.
That's not what this is about, what I'm saying here is how people willingly choose the Tourist approach even when it's not needed, even when they are planning vacations or side hobbies, just because they don't know of an alternative. And then find themselves bored and unwilling to keep going at their new hobbies, because guess what, they successfully turned their hobby into a job.
People think that the tourist approach is the only one there is, this post is here to remind them of a simpler time when they were kids and just wanted to explore all day long, with no specific goal in mind, the journey being the goal itself.
Remember you can at anytime take a light stroll with a small notebook and a pen, and just write thoughts on the way.
You can take the time when you are on a train to just notice the nature passing you by.
You can take time with family to just have random conversations, with no agenda behind them.
You can take time to breathe and relax, especially when things aren't going your way.
Tell me, what is your way of flaneuring?
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