Society & Culture

The hidden treasures of cities and minds

 

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Have you ever been to a city that revealed itself slowly?

The kind of place where every wrong turn leads to a new door, carved, and studded with brass? Where twisting streets beckon toward dead-ends and bare walls, while an unassuming archway opens onto a light-filled vista?

The details of cities — and minds — are not obvious. You will not notice them in a day or an hour. It is only with time, as you learn your way through new territory, that the exquisite small things will emerge from hiding and tell you what is truly unique.

The emerald hue of a pane of glass flashes from a second story window only the 10th time you pass it by. You perceive the faded carving of a particular heavy wooden door after overlooking it the first dozen strolls. You turn left where you have always turned right, and find what is now your favourite path.

Every city has roads and shops, rooftops that kiss the sky and inhabitants with everyday lives. The best ones have harbours and secret courtyards, too.

Few cities unmask their many faces to strangers. Only the occasional, privileged newcomer will see a city’s delicate ankles — intricate idiosyncrasies, inner chambers, erratically placed shops and cafes — right away. Even fewer will see its hidden warts— dingy alleys, the odd cement structure in a row of brick houses, half-restored or half-decayed treasures.

Most of us must walk and wander for many days, weeks or years to discover these quirks.

So it is with our minds, I think. It takes countless ordinary strolls and meandering investigations into another’s thoughts to notice the details — the delicate beauty and ugly corners — beyond the main streets and standard facades.

The details of minds, and cities, are subtle and easily overlooked. But when you find them, they are more exquisite than anything else.

Care to go for a stroll?

 

{Photo: Toby Israel}

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Toby Israel

Toby Israel

Toby Israel is a feminist adventurer, a fearless explorer and an incorrigible vagabond. She travels in search of dragons, searches and cross-cultural understanding. Avid dancer, yogi, cook and lover of words, she is inspired by movement and poetry, good food and new things. She studied Anthropology at Middlebury College and now seeks to squeeze by as a freelance writer and 21st century nomad. You can share her journey on her blog, Next Stop World, Facebook and Twitter!

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