I went for a walk around my neighbourhood this morning and deliberately turned down all the roads that I have never been down before. As well as discovering that my neighbours have an unnatural obsession with orange Clivias, I also found that not only is there a library just down the road from me, there is also a gallery, a yoga studio, a lawyer’s office, an international embassy, a variety of restaurants, and even a tattoo parlour! It’s pretty reassuring to uncover all of this in the space of an hour’s ramble, and to know that I am now basically covered for whatever life throws at me – from a divorce to a kimchi crisis! And that was just within a 5 km radius of my house.
Similarly, the other day when walking around my favourite mall with a friend, she lead me down a shortcut that I had no idea existed, and which effectively cut a good five minutes from the time it usually takes to walk from the Woolies on the one end of the mall to the cool coffee shop and the ATM on the other. At first I was slightly annoyed that I had spent the past however many years walking the long way round, but then I realised that there is quite a lot of satisfaction to be derived from discovering something completely new, in a place that you thought you already knew so well.
Like when I lived in Joburg during my student days and would always take the same route home every day. Then one day, for some inexplicable reason, I turned down a different road en route and made the most amazing discovering – the “wheee!” bump. This particular road was built in such a way that at one point you could roar down a steep incline, come up a slight hill and, at just the right speed, launch yourself over a bump that would have you blissfully airborne for enough time to let out a delirious “whee!” before you came back down to earth. It sounds like a minor thing (and I am sure it wasn’t the best thing for my little Citi Golf either), but that particular discovery cheered me up on numerous occasions when I’d had a bad day.
Nothing can beat the excitement and sense of adventure you feel when you travel to different countries, immerse yourself in other cultures and traditions, taste new food, and look at the world from a completely different perspective. Or indeed, get the opportunity to travel around your own country and discover places you have never been before. However, it’s also amazing when you finally realise that you don’t need a plane ticket, a suitcase and a travel itinerary to still make new discoveries and have completely unexpected encounters every day. All you have to do is have the courage to step outside your front door with your eyes wide open and change your route every once and a while.
Nicky Furniss Editor