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Flâneur

The Flâneur is an idea originating with the French poet Charles Baudelaire in the mid-17th century. Baudelaire made the observation that many people were strolling thru the arcades of Paris seeking an authentic experience in an unstructured way. He believed that looking at the world with a sense of curiosity and at a slow pace could reveal a life of significance. Similarly the French philosopher Kierkegaard said “the mind functions optimally at 3 miles per hour.” The turtle walker signifies that pace, the slower you walk the more you observe and the more you learn. Sometimes in life you need to go slow, to go fast.

I first read about the Flâneur in the book The Black Swan, by Nassim Taleb. He described a person sitting in a cafe on the streets of Paris with no agenda but to observe the crowds and just be. At the time my life was going fine, but going too fast. My curiosity was peaked and I began to research more about the Flâneur. The idea of slowing down was foreign to me. Once I slowed down and observed the world around me, observed nature, a life of significance was revealed. J.R.R. Tolkien describes it succinctly, “not all who wonder are lost.”