"To proceed by or take a winding or indirect course"
"To go aimlessly, indirectly, or casually"
Meandering originally referred to the winding indirect course of a contained body of water and is additionally used to describe our human actions. I want to distinguish meandering from wandering, their unique motivational sources and impact on our inner and outer lives. Wandering is a form of being “lost,” without direction or motive and being pulled about by external forces. On the surface, they may look the same; on a more subtle level, they are quite different.
Meandering is often confused with wandering and viewed as a non-directive time-waster, resulting in nothing of value and essentially a form of procrastination. True meandering, however, is something entirely different. In many ways, meandering – when optimally utilized – is an elegant form of self-nurturing. Meandering can be creative, rejuvenating and transformational in nature. True meandering is a form of listening to the call of your soul and is internally directed.
My most nurturing and productive days have ultimately resulted from responding to an inner call to meander – from reading a newly re-discovered book, to cleaning out a closet, to meeting a dear friend for coffee and conversation, to researching interesting and seemingly non-relevant topics on the internet, to meditating or working out, to walking along Chicago’s beautiful lake front, or event to just sitting and staring into space. On the surface, this might look like wandering or procrastination, but it’s completely different in terms of inner need, motivation and impact. I always emerge from a period of meandering, whether it’s a day or an hour, feeling completely refreshed, energized and motivated to take on a new challenge or endeavor.
What about you? Have you given yourself the gift of meandering lately?