We’ll always have Paris

So street wisdom is back in Paris after more than 100 years.  Let me explain.

In the mid-nineteenth century a group of French artists and thinkers started turning to the city streets – rather than rural nature – for inspiration.   So began the Flâneur movement – from ‘flâner‘, to stroll.  Balzac described flânerie as “the gastronomy of the eye” – all about savouring the urban landscape.   Baudelaire describes how the flâneur’s “passion and his profession are to become one flesh with the crowd.  Thus the lover of universal life enters into the crowd as though it were an immense reservoir of electrical energy.

Sounds like he had experienced Street Wisdom!

We didn’t consciously decide to continue this tradition when we set up our venture 3 years ago.  But during this Parisian event, leading a group of 25 fearless inspiration seekers through the streets of the City of Light, Mel and I both felt the ghosts of the Flâneurs looking down and wishing us ‘bon voyage’.

 

Brisbane breakthroughs – Street Wisdom Australia

A couple of weeks ago, we held our first ever Street Wisdom event in Australia. A small group gathered in the centre of Brisbane on a Sunday afternoon to seek answers and inspiration on the sunny springtime streets. This is Caitlin’s story, one of our intrepid first-time participants, who had a revelation about a question she’d been pondering for some time….

‘I went to Street Wisdom with a thousand questions but I suppose it all came down to one very vague question – what is important to me? At 21-years-old, I have excelled through high school and university, and managed to gain full time employment in the entertainment industry just before my 21st birthday. I have always been an over-achiever, but recently I have been questioning what is really important to me – a good job, full time employment, and working really hard, or abandoning my way of living to travel the world and do what really makes me happy, worrying about the money later.

After the first couple of exercises, we realised a few of us were questioning similar things. I found discussing my question with the other participants really useful, as I had so many, and perhaps if they were addressing one of my many, I could focus away from that for myself, and listen to what they found and apply it to myself if it was relevant! With the help of my Street Wisdom guide, we narrowed my question down to: ‘Show me what to focus on’.

As our quest began, I headed for a public bathroom and thought I’d start my walk after that, but sure enough, as I began to wander, I immediately saw a sign that said ‘Travelling the World’. I took a picture of it, but thought the significance was not so grand when I realised there were many similar signs, some saying ‘Dance the Night Away’, ‘Parisian’ and one even saying ‘At Work’. I continued on to the bathroom but suddenly, it was like a lightbulb moment when reflecting on the significance of those signs: ‘Travel The World…..At Work.’

I couldn’t believe I hadn’t had the realisation before! Most of my work is done on the Internet – I don’t even have an office most of the time! I couldn’t believe that when I had the freedom to work absolutely anywhere, I was choosing to work at home when I could also be travelling – fulfilling both of my desires.

My opinion of Street Wisdom is that if you look for something hard enough, you will see it. I think if you dedicate three hours solely to thinking about a question you have, you will probably work it out. The trouble is, in our fast-paced society most people don’t give themselves the opportunity and our attention spans are becoming so short that it is nearly downright impossible for us to do that!

Street Wisdom provides a platform that gives us a few different things to focus on, while all the while pondering that question in the background. The other thing that Street Wisdom is great for, and what I think I benefitted from so much, is seeing what your SUBCONSCIOUS mind wants you to see. I had probably already figured out that I should be travelling while working – because I can! – a long while ago, but not in my conscious mind, only in my subconscious. Taking part in Street Wisdom allowed my subconscious mind to make me see very obvious signs about this, and point me in my heart’s direction!

I’m very happy that I spent three hours of my Sunday doing Street Wisdom. Not only did I have a major breakthrough and lightbulb moment, but I also met some great, creative, friendly people, and got some exercise! You really can’t lose! 🙂

Caitlin Hultgren

Are you looking for a breakthrough too? More events are taking place in Australia soon. If you’d like to run an event there, or anywhere, get in touch – we send you all the information you need to make it happen.  mel@streetwisdom.org

 

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El Camiño di Oxford Street?

el-camino-de-santiagoEvery year thousands of people trek to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain on routes that wind through Europe, carved by countless pilgrims and spiritual seekers before them.   It can be a long, long walk.  But that’s the point.  If you’re looking for answers, inspiration and insight, the journey’s the thing.   It’s where the magic happens, the chance meetings, the unexpected discoveries.   I haven’t walked the camino myself but those who have tell me they get a huge amount from it.

Every year hundreds of thousands – millions – of people trek through our city streets on their way to and from work.   And what they get from is, mostly, – nothing. Zip.  Nada.  Niente.

The street to many of us is just a traffic-filled, annoying space to hurry through, a logistical obstacle, something to screen out with an iPod playlist.

Street Wisdom disagrees.   We think a scrubby path through the northern Spanish hills is more like Oxford Street rush hour than we realise.  We think the magic is more about how you look than what you are looking at.   We’re suggesting the difference between a quest and a commute is a choice you can make any time.  When you really switch on your senses and connect with what’s around you, you can start picking up inspiration right outside your door.

What do you think?

Give it a try.  

Thanks to the recent tube strike Londoners were given an excuse to slow down and use the walk.     Ask a question and see what the street answers…

If you get some interesting results, check out where the next Street Wisdom events are taking place and come really experience what the street has to teach you.  It’s free and designed as shareware so you can even run your own event for friends or colleagues.