Greetings from the coast of Maine! I recently finished reading the thought-provoking book titled Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasure of Solitude by Stephanie Rosenbloom, a travel writer for the New York Times. And she shares about learning to savor her weeklong visit to Paris in the spring, Istanbul in the summer, Florence in the autumn, and New York in the winter. All of which got me to thinking about the art of savoring.
Rosenbloom quotes a resource from her research that captures its essence: “In Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience, the scholars define it as ‘a search for the delectable, delicious, almost gustatory delights of the moment.’ It describes the process of enjoyment: how a person manages or ‘attends to’ not just a gustatory delight, but any kind of positive experience.”
Now, I love a “gustatory delight” as much as the next guy, but I am not simply talking about good food here. No, what I am proposing is much more of a holistic appreciation for the simple pleasures of life, including many that we may take for granted. Notice that the above description mentions the “process” of enjoyment. Linda and I not only try to savor our meals, but also the process of procuring them.
I don’t know about you, but I used to think it was odd when movies depicted people going to the grocery store and coming home with only enough stuff for that day, or even that meal. For example, one’s tote bag revealing a loaf of bread, some cheese, and a bottle of bubbly. But nowadays, we find ourselves not only frequenting our local grocer for staples, but also our nearby farmers market for specialty goods, and other neighborhood markets for sundries like fresh pastries.
Another useful method for savoring life is active anticipation, or purposely pondering an upcoming event by planning the experience ahead of time. For example, Linda and I recently booked a weekend getaway to Peterborough, New Hampshire for the holidays. In the meantime, we are enjoying the preparation for our trip by researching sites online and reading more about the area. The anticipation of participation is fun!
Yet another means of savoring an experience is the simple act of being present in the moment. One example of this is that of the flaneur, what the French call a leisurely stroller, following his curiosity with no particular destination in mind. Linda and I call this being a tourist in our own town and we practice it a lot [visiting local lighthouses as pictured above]. And Rosenbloom herself has created the practice of what she calls “Tourist Tuesdays,” which are weekly times during routine errands to try something new or go someplace she has not been in a long while.
“And speaking of practices, I began jotting down those that, through cities and seasons, helped make my alone time rich and meaningful: snapshotting the moment, trying new things, being present, being playful, communing with art, cultivating anticipation, finding silence, rolling with whatever comes, walking, listening, reminiscing, remembering that everything is fleeting,” concludes Rosenbloom.