After dinner last week, we had an errand to run in a town 30 minutes away. As we drove in, Mr. Petrol Head was forced to detour because the weekly summer market had taken over the main street. Once our business was done, we headed back that way and spent about 90 minutes wandering the stalls, sampling fresh strawberries, tasting black bean hummus on crackers, and enjoying a few tiny shots of cider. The ocean was at our back and the scent of the sea mingled with the smell of grilled meat and those deadly but delicious market temptations: deep-fried donuts. We chatted to people, patted sweet dogs and listened to a short, impromptu concert.
We had such a good time.
Driving home, I was struck by how infrequently I wander. I’m a planner by nature, generally more disciplined than spontaneous. Even at play I tend to go out with a purpose: I head to a concert or a movie or a lecture; I go out for dinner with Mr. Petrol Head or meet up with friends for drinks. My walking buddies and I text and plan before we link up too: what day, what route, how long. Sometimes we’ll even text in advance about what we want to talk about.
Yeah. Not quite an agenda but not a lot of spontaneity in that. Not a lot of room for wandering, either literally or figuratively.
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, is a big believer in artist dates. That’s an hour or longer block of time every week spent with yourself by yourself. Doing something fun to fill the well. She recommends everything from going to a flea market or seeing a vintage movie to lying on the grass and staring up at a tree or possibly even visiting a cathedral. Or maybe the tree is your kind of cathedral. It is mine.
Because I had such a great time at the market last week, I’m taking myself on some artist dates over the coming weeks. Maybe not every week but at least a couple of times a month through the summer. And while Cameron recommends setting these dates up ahead of time, I’m going to block off the time but not set the destination. I’m going to wing it, depending on what’s happening that day and how I’m feeling. I’m going to lean into spontaneity.
I’m going to wander.
Wish me luck.