The Wander Society, by Keri Smith, is so much fun to read that it feels scandalous. I devoured this book in two sittings. Each page is filled with art and inspiration, leading the reader on a wild journey to discover the source of a secret society known as, “The Wander Society.”
This secret society exists to perpetuate the act of, “walking aimlessly as a way to fuel and inspire their work.” They look to the myriad authors, artists, and philosophers–who have embraced wandering as a way of life–in their quest to live life to the fullest in the present moment. Through free movement and free thought, they find true freedom. They express this mindset through cryptic notes and guerrilla-art placed in public places to inspire others to adopt the wandering mentality. This idea has woken a nascent desire in me to publicly stand up for freedom of thought in a way that draws no attention to myself in the process. This idea is invigorating.
Wandering is not about a specific place or destination, getting from one place to another, or movement as a means to an end. Instead, it’s about letting the soul and mind roam. -Keri Smith
Wandering is less about where we go as about how we operate. The physical act of wandering, connects the mind and body and allows them to work together on our experience. This thought goes deep into the metaphysical and has roots in many mystic traditions. Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed were all wanderers. So were Ghandi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Walt Whitman.
Wherever the hero may wander, whatever he may do, he is ever in the presence of his own essence–for he has the perfected eye to see. There is no separateness. -Joseph Campbell from The Hero With a Thousand Faces
The wanderer is the hero of their own story. They are on a quest for freedom and inspiration. In journeying this way, through the dailiness of life, they hope to lead others to a place of realization. Living well is directly tied to living presently.
Qualities of great wanderers: curious, inquisitive, nonconformist, rebellious, daring, revolutionary, inventive, visionary, solitary, self-sufficient. -Keri Smith from The Wander Society
Wandering is a practice as well as a mindset, and in The Wander Society, Keri Smith lays out some of the practicalities that prominent and aspiring wanderers embrace. The following practices are prescribed in detail:
- Unplanned time
- Skill building
These practices help the wanderer to deeply experience life by paring down externalities to the bare minimum and then deeply observing and reporting their findings. In the process, wanderers become increasingly self-sufficient. This self-sufficiency and self-examination, coupled with recorded observations about the world they inhabit, lead to understanding and free-thought. The wanderer sees what is.
Home Where You Are
The most impactful thought in The Wander Society is the idea that wanderers are home wherever they are. This is accomplished by pairing-down their needs, building skills to provide for themselves, and observing life from a place of serenity rather than fear and loathing. This idea is foundational in building a wandering mentality. The wanderer arrives home with every step they take.
When I walk, I don’t hurry to arrive. Why? Because I arrive every moment. I have arrived. -Thich Nhat Hanh from You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment
Wandering–true wandering–is the realization that where you are is more important than where you are going or where you have been. Tourists check off lists, wanderers are always where they are going.
A Practical Guide to Wandering
The Wander Society offers a vital mix of wandering philosophy and practical tips for building a lifestyle around that philosophy. So many books leave the reader alone to discover how to embody the premise they promise, but The Wander Society does the reader a great service in delivering a toolset that the reader can draw from in pursuit of wandering. Ms. Smith offers suggestions for everything from how to develop a wanderer’s mindset to how to build a proper walking stick. There are lists of quotes and books for the reader to continue their research. There is so much to love about this book that I heartily recommend it.
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