A day of many, many words. Reflections. Epiphanies. A lot to process for just one day.
This was a day to leave compass, GPS and any apps that could give me a brilliant recommendation on my itinerary, in the back of the drawer. My goal was not to take the same road travelled by pretty much everyone who comes to Santiago.
I'm not disdaining it. I think it can be great and it helps you prioritise and organise the fun. Organise the fun? Not for me today.
The flâneur is someone who strolls around, who flows through the city without necessarily having a purpose or destination, other than enjoying the act of walking on itself. It emerged in the nineteenth century (and I do not dare to explain anything else than this). A flâneur is one who wishes to simply be, beyond the obligations and expectations that urban life was starting to impose. To purely enjoy. To walk without direction or trajectory, having each landscape as a new experience to be savoured, without the intention of getting to any practical result.
It may sound easy to leave without a map in a city like Santiago, especially when you are downtown. But not for me. To let go of control, to allow myself to feel and get into the flow, needs to be as constant exercise as my 20-minute daily yoga (and one thing favours the other).
This sense of release and freedom is very important to me. Very important. It matters more to me now that I allow myself to spend four hours on the terrace of the hostel, writing and registering everything that is going on inside of me, while the city remains out there, waiting for my time, than going around collecting visited spots.
I've written pages and pages about my first day of this trip. None of them mentions where I've been.
And that's the dream.
I should mention that all this has led me to walk (or, flâneur) around downtown Santiago for a few hours. It led me to observe people, notice the sounds and experience the odours differently. If, on one hand, when you don't know where you are going, any road can take you there, on the other, every part of the path becomes its own destination, and we save the joy to be felt only when we get there.
There are two moments of this experience, this first day, that are printed in my memory. The first is that at some point I wanted to define a destination for my "flaneurism". I remembered that the Palacio de la Moneda was a rather imposing place, with a huge garden and a big Chile flag waving up high. It offered an absence of buildings for some blocks in the middle of the city. I set out to get there, without having any idea where the Palacio was (except that it was also in the city centre, thus not far from where I started). Without knowing the address - even if I did, I would not have the map. I did not ask anyone. I let myself go on, walk on.
When I realised, it was there. Standing in front of the Palacio de La Moneda. The perfect metaphor and lesson that, when we listen to our heart, when we follow what we feel with calm and confidence, the path itself arises and the destiny unfolds much easier than we could imagine.
And even if the destination hadn't turned out as expected, the walk itself had put me in flow. Flow is when you are so deeply into what you are doing that you forget about time, you don't get tired. You dive really, really deep.
When I ran into a band playing Pink Floyd in the middle of the street, out of nowhere, for about random 20 people, and it felt like I was in a stadium, I understood it.
I understood that it does not matter what is outside of you. If it's a garden, ten people, one person. If you look within with curious and loving eyes, and if we acknowledge the grandiosity of what we have inside, even a guitar solo on the sidewalk becomes the most incredible moment of your life.
This means that, either the days will be incredibly wonderful, perfect and unforgettable as yesterday, or I must be aware that there will be less sunny days like this, eventually.
And that's alright.
What matters for me is that I keep seeking. Obvious as it may seem, the very act of searching for something makes it reasonably easier to find it. And the search, by itself, is already worth a lifetime.