I have moved to Montreal the past week and quite happy where I am. The blossoms. The buttery croissants. The manicured beds of tulips. The temperate sunshine. The lovers, so many lovers, on benches, on recreation parks, and in restaurants, and dangling their feet along the quays. I often can’t stop thinking about unsolvable questions like “What is my purpose?” but it’s when I go for these strolls that such question lose its force. I’m slowly being convinced that going for aimless walks in a warm afternoon can go a long way to solve existentialism.
A strong emphasis on no aimless: anytime I had a goal in mind for the walk — like bringing my camera to find beautiful subjects worthy of photographing — I couldn’t really focus on the simple conviviality of observing. Like today, I was coming back home from gym and was passing by a street where I saw a little girl and who seemed like her older brother on a small play ground playing with a soccer ball, just passing the ball towards each other. The scenery came across to me as beautiful and serene, not because of the scenery was visually aesthetic nor compositionally balanced, but because my heart filled with glee seeing the little girl having a fun time with her brother outside in a warm evening. Knowing that I didn’t have my camera with me, I knew this fleeting moment could not be permanently captured. And it was that very fact that made me cherish the observation.
Another story: on my way back to my apartment today, there was an Indian couple and an adorable toddler in front of me walking in the same direction. At first, the dad was holding the toddler’s hand, but later had let go her hand after checking the sidewalk was desolate. As soon as the dad let go of her hand, the toddler began to run as fast as she could, which of course, was barely faster than adult’s walking speed. But the toddler’s face was filled with joy. She ran like five meters forward and turned to see where her parents were, her chuckling as if someone was tickling her in the ribs. I thought, what was she chuckling about? She seemed like she was delighted by the fact that she had two legs and could go anywhere she wanted to. Perhaps every step she took felt sensational to her. The weight of her body perfectly balanced with two limbs, fully in control. The most nascent form of human agency, the ability to walk where you want to go.
It’s quarter past ten on Tuesday. I’m sitting on my kitchen table writing this piece and feeling grateful for the two encounters today.