Yesterday’s post on ‘Sweet Doing Nothing’ was the foreshadow of today’s World Sauntering Day. My friend Lee, commented about it on that post. We often share a common thread of thought processing.
Saunter is a word that I grew up hearing as a negative. (‘Don’t just saunter over here, I mean for you to hurry!’) If we didn’t move fast enough, it was taken as an offense; we were wasting time. Or people – usually older ones – would say as an insult to someone’s character; (She sauntered over to him, like she was trying to seduce him.) This might have been a woman talking about the way a waitress had behaved or a friend of the family had acted – usually around that person’s husband. I don’t ever recall hearing it in a positive connotation.
June 19 is World Sauntering Day or as Lee says, sometimes it’s called International Sauntering Day. Whatever you call it, it’s easy to celebrate. Just go about your life in an easy rhythm. Don’t hurry, speed walk, rush, or run. Stop trying to get everything accomplished in one day – at least for today. Walk slowly, cook with purpose and enjoy the process, savor your food, absorb your surroundings. Just saunter!
For most of us, especially Americans, that is a difficult concept. We do everything in such a hurry. We eat on the run, in the car, grab a take-out sandwich, or prepare something precooked in a microwave which we then stand in front of yelling ‘hurry up’.
We run around with our children from place to place for soccer, baseball, dance, and every other sport or activity available. Remember when we were kids? We didn’t do that. We played outside until dark. Sometimes it was just lying in the summer grass watching lightening bugs come out to play, or chasing butterflies. I recall reading and day dreaming about far away places and writing my first novel at about age 8 or 9 in pink ink on notebook paper. Tell me, do you know any people who let their children lie around and daydream anymore? I am guilty of this as well. My son played baseball year round, regular season, off-season, traveling, camps. We were constantly rushing around.
We multi-task constantly, rarely giving anything our full attention. My son has gotten so good at this that he can carry on two conversations simultaneously – one texting and the other verbal. And he is actually good at it. Imagine that!
We are speed travelers – my description of a lot of traveling adults trying to see fourteen countries in nine days. Really? I wonder if they’ll absorb anything useful or even remember which countries they were in. There’s nothing wrong with seeing different countries in a single trip, but I can’t imagine how anyone could learn much about a region in so little time. Pick two or three places and spread them out over several days. Slow down, get to know someone there, absorb the language and the culture, walk slowly through the villages, just saunter!
There is a little island off the Eastern Shore of Northern Virginia – Chincoteague. We use to visit a lot when our son was small. It took about nine hours of hard driving along 70 mph interstates and across the Bay Bridge Tunnel. Then we crossed Wallops Island into Chincoteague where we stayed although the ocean was off the next island, Asateague. There were no accommodations on that island, it was a preserve. But in Chincoteague the speed limit was 25 mph. Imagine that for a minute. We normally got a speeding ticket every time we crossed the causeway. It is hard to slow down that much that quickly. That is what this holiday reminds me of – slamming on the brakes of a speeding lifestyle. But when we settled down, there was so much we could see if we weren’t hurrying along; birds, egrets, wild ponies, deer, pelicans. We could find sand dollars and conch shells on the native beach. We just had to slow down, saunter.
Try it today. Slow the pace, look at your surroundings, wait for a properly cooked meal and eat it sitting down. Saunter through your day and see if you get anything from it.
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