“You see but you do not observe. The distinction is clear” – Sherlock Holmes
“The real voyage of discovery exists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes” – Proust
It didn’t take much beyond hearing about a friend’s experience to sign up for Street Wisdom when Phil and Helen advertised it on Twitter. In short, I whole heartedly recommend it. It exceeded my expectations, and here’s why.
After spending my student years in Nottingham the city already had a place in my heart. But my assumed familiarity was just that, assumptions built on ignorance of walking with intention to meet someone or to shop. Nottingham’s my go-to city, to do something and never a place I’d head for to do nothing. Whilst I love the city, I always love leaving it too, and more frequently I seek out places of solitude, surrounded by trees and space not filled with people. Normality for a country girl with farming genes.
So you attend Street Wisdom with a question that you’ve been pondering and would like an answer to. My default would be to talk this through with a trusted friend, but with an open mind chuffed at the bright sunshine I went to meet the group. Not entirely sure why, and comfortable with the lack of purpose. Infact that was quite a nice change to a work day – no one’s expecting anything of me. The first new person I met was Richard who happened to live just 3 miles from me in Derbyshire. His reason for attending was the ‘artists trail’: a philosophical approach to life including frequently trying new things. Happy to go with that. Maybe I’d find an answer without talking for a change!
Our guide led us through ‘tuning in’. And something happened…along the lines of permission to “go slow, but this time, really really slow”. Time to think, to stop, to look, to notice. Then once it started, I became curiouser and curiouser (like Alice but no mushrooms, honest) and time became a non-entity.
When did you last go slow?
Not just a bit slow. Really. Slow. Down.
When did you last spend 10minutes seeing the beauty in everything?Noticing what’s good about everything and everyone you come across.
I found Nottingham’s ‘Speakers Corner’ which I didn’t know existed:
And the patterns I started noticing seemed to still my thoughts:
By the time of our hour long quest I was happily a drift, and I’d realised that no one cared how long I stood in one spot staring at a pigeon or a waterfall:
My quest took me to the familiar, which then fuelled me to go elsewhere and discover. Our guide said your question might change, so I inadvertently let 3 enter my thoughts, but with no pressure to answer them. I just wandered aimlessly with nothing to do – what a great feeling. Nowhere to be. Nothing to do. For a whole hour.
This freedom, space and time somehow got me realising a few things. Exploring and accepting a few things. And ultimately feeling quite peaceful about a few things that I didn’t feel peaceful about before. It was like a walking meditation in an environment I’d taken for granted.
The street was full of previously un-noticed resources. The more I stopped seeking an answer, the more I noticed and found answers. I learnt to appreciate Nottingham. I also learnt that the komorebi’s not the only place I grow.
Some people want things to happen, some people hope things will happen, some people make things happen.
Massive thank you to our guides Phil, Helen and Sarah for generously giving your time and facilitating a fab free event.
And a Guardian article about it
Have a go! What’s to lose?