PlacemakingTravelWriting

The Meaning of Flâneur and the Importance of Presence

Home isn’t a stationary place, but rather a connection with oneself that travels where they do. It’s that feeling of bliss present wherever you are, whether it be in the center of a bustling of a city, or in the middle of a field under blue skies. I’ve struggled to find a term that best describes the aching completeness we feel while moving through a city, whether it be my own or one foreign.

What is Flâneur?

As humans, our minds can take us on a non-stop adventure through our worries, our anxieties, and even our failures. Becoming conscious of these tendencies is what allows us to grow and challenge our own minds.

Simultaneously pushing our limits and finding comfort in our surroundings allows us space to fully exist wherever we are; to see the world clearly once again by being an active part of it. Parisians have crafted the perfect word for this sensation of “doing the opposite of nothing”: flâneur.

This life isn’t about finding and staying; rather, it’s about movement. About connection. Actively seeking moments of Flâneur:

“The crowd is his element, as the air is that of birds and water of fishes. His passion and his profession are to become one flesh with the crowd. For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world—impartial natures which the tongue can but clumsily define. Thus the lover of universal life enters into the crowd as though it were an immense reservoir of electrical energy. Or we might liken him to a mirror as vast as the crowd itself; or to a kaleidoscope gifted with consciousness, responding to each one of its movements and reproducing the multiplicity of life and the flickering grace of all the elements of life.”

— Charles Baudelaire, “The Painter of Modern Life”

Finding a “Niche”

Our moments are fleeting; every single one. This shouldn’t be an imprisoning realization but a completely freeing understanding that inspires us to do good and really feel every minute of our lives. There’s an importance in being present, feeling alive, and creating a life that aligns with the best parts of you.

Since I made the decision to go into writing full-time, I’ve been poking around the innermost corners of myself, prodding for some sort of “niche”, or the thing that makes me, “me.” That hidden place of passion that *must* be waiting to be uncovered.

I’ve had countless moments where I wished I were an individual who is set in their ways; one who has a specific passion and shows up every day. I may not have a “niche”, but I know that showing up for this part of myself – the curious communicator –  is who I am. By searching for a specific theme, I was avoiding the tasks that I needed to complete: I was avoiding my responsibility for myself.

Finding a niche isn’t the point because authenticity cannot be found; it’s who you are. It’s acting with genuine and good intentions at any given moment.

Making Connections

I find meaning at night time on short walks home, as the rain started to fall quietly from dark skies, a moving metaphor for those awake to experience it. I find meaning in the middle of a new city. I find meaning in the little things, like the chain of door-holding kindness that happens 9/10 times I walk into my apartment.

The importance of connection – of community – has been an ever-evolving realm of thought that I get sucked into more often than not. Cultivating connection is the building of bridges that were previously nonexistent, bringing together the known and unknown, the seen and unseen, into a greater good.

“Feelings of bittersweet travels and uncertainty are clouding my mind. Scrambled thoughts, but with a clean slate to start from. This life is full of opportunities to be better, especially for others. Our humanity, our being, comes in comforting others, connecting with others, in any way we can. Making another laugh, speaking words which heal rather than just make noise.

To choose a life of adventure is to choose a life of uncertainty, to have your home lay beneath your own two feet rather than to depend on walking through a door to comfort.

anubhav-saxena-41356.jpg

I wrote these words while on the road, but they’re true in business, as well.

Through writing, I can share this uncertainty. I can be scared of failing, but work hard anyway. I can build relationships and cultivate healthy thoughts. For connection – through words or otherwise – is to attach; to become parallel.

Taking chances is all we have. To be bold and to be brave. To be okay, whatever the outcome. This takes time, hard work, and harder choices, like any entrepreneur, student, business owner, or human being will know.

There is so much to share. Experiences. History. The importance of living within your means. How it feels to come into yourself unexpectedly. Heartbreak and healing. Why we should make ourselves uncomfortable, and often. Why we must focus on sustainability rather than materialistic needs.

And with that, I think I’ve found a good place to start.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *