$ense & $ensibility Monday: Flâner

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As a writer, I spend a lot of time cooped up inside on a computer. Sometimes I need to get out of my desk chair and refresh my mind and body. One of the cheapest and easiest ways to recharge my batteries is to take a walk. So, this weekend I strolled and thought about how nice it was to have the combination of sun and freezing wind on my face. I watched the river go by. I watched children playing. I took in my neighborhood with new eyes. I was a flâneuse as the French say.

The verb flâner in French literally translates as “to stroll”. Yet, in my mind, it has an even more sensual connotation than it’s English partner. According to my French dictionary, the definition is “to walk without an intention or objective, without hurrying oneself”. To me, flâner means to stroll without a destination, for the pleasure of the walk, for the sights you’ll see, for all the little details that you miss in your day-to-day life. When I think of flâner, I think of the Gallic sense of pleasure. I think of Amélie sticking her hand into a bag of grains to feel the texture; of noticing architectural details on a building I pass by daily; of letting my feet carry me where they will and just enjoying what life allows me to experience during that stroll.

On one of my strolls I encountered a park bench with the plaque above. It touched me at that moment because it sums up my philosophy of being a flâneuse and reminds me that I need to live more mindfully and enjoy the view when I’m not strolling as well. So why not take some time this week to just enjoy the view? What little steps that don’t cost a thing can you take to live in the moment?

Katharine Albritton is an art market specialist and writer. Read her art market blog and follow her on twitter.