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May 6th, 2020
Conscious aimlessness is a form of courage. Another way to phrase this is to describe how it begins. For many people it would mean being bored and simply immersing one’s self in the experience. Boredom is aimlessness without movement.
Given enough time the imagination begins to move and that aimlessness is cut down from all possible directions to an actual handful.
One of the purposes of civilization, perhaps even the main purpose, is to make things more predictable. No one wants to be subjected to the chaos of being hunted by unknown beasts that lurk around every corner. Being lost is a stressful and dangerous predicament, and modern society creates an order that allows for far more fidelity between what we expect to happen and what actually does happen. Though the pendulum on this gift has perhaps swung so far in it’s own direction that it’s hitched itself up in some corner of it’s own cage, and now, the benefits of the unpredictable only leak in by chance. We have set things up in a way that does not allow many of us to wander safely and productively. We can only traverse set and decided channels.
But such avenues can only lead to places that we already know about. These pathways not only maintain the status quo, they are the status quo. And who is happy with the status quo? Few if any.
So we must ask, what is required to find something new? Is it possible to find something new by travelling the same tried and true avenues that we have previously carved out? Or are we required to venture into the unknown in order to find the new? Perhaps there are undiscovered niches hidden within the circuits of our system that can be found if we wander the well beaten paths with a curious eye.
No discussion of wandering would be complete without highlighting the popular quote:
All who wander are not lost.
But where do such wanderers end up? To be lost is to have no bearings about where you are. Of course this doesn’t necessarily mean a person can’t figure out which direction might be most promising given the information available in the situation at hand.
We might not know where we are, but that doesn’t mean we can’t figure out which way to go.
What this means is that conscious aimlessness is a form of courage. It’s difficult and stressful to leave the predictable and venture out in new directions. There’s simply no telling what you’ll come across. It could be terrible, but it could also be good beyond your wildest dreams. The reason being of course that our dreams are often based on what we think is possible, and what we think is possible is highly informed by what we’ve seen done. It’s a true act of imagination to envision something that’s possible but which has never been done. The path towards such an accomplishment is never known because by default that path has never been travelled before.
The discovery of something new will always look like wandering before it is found.
What’s important to note is that there’s a difference between wandering aimlessly and wandering purposefully. In both cases one is bound to come across the unexpected, and that unexpected might be a useful treasure. But the second is the adventure of the true imagination, one that reads the echoes of reality and surmises that there may be a real place that has yet to be discovered.
Perhaps such purposeful wandering is simply what we call exploration.