"Snapshots of Flaneur" is a new ongoing series about the lifestyle of stroller, one who seeks pleasure in the anfractuosities of a city.
Naturally, we all develop a morning ritual. For some that's hitting the snooze button, negotiating five more minutes three more times. For others it’s waking at the crack of dawn, checking off a long to-do list before their day can even begin. Below is a time-chart of my own morning ritual. A record of my personal approach to work and well-being. It has taken a few years to develop, but I think I’m on to something beautiful.
Sleeping in is one of the many perks of being a ‘sole proprietor,' I rise with the sun. My feet swing off the bed and grip the floor, lifting me into a full body stretch, scratching and yawning like a prehistoric reptile. My first order of business is finding the music that will accompany my bowl of Cheerio's. Today, that's Otis Redding. Then I follow a strict dressing procedure: Underwear, socks, pants, shirt and shoes, in that order. I brush my teeth and splash cold water on my face to bring a feeling of freshness into the morning. I reach for my keys, which are kept in a wine glass, and check my coat for cash, my compact camera and a book (currently Essays in Love by Alain de Botton). Paperback is ideal, one that fits into a jacket pocket for hands free strolling. After this fifteen minute prep, I move swiftly down two flights of stairs.
"Did I lock the door?" I'm never comfortably sure, but I’ve gone too far to turn back, and there’s the far more pressing matter of which coffee shop to choose. Today, it’s Cafe Regular Du Nord. The bay window seating gives it priority status, and its minuscule size acts as a deterrent of would be chatter boxes. My stroll begins on Prospect Place - a great place to start - and as I approach 7th avenue I pass a local fruit stand where I was once ripped off over a bunch of green grapes. I paid $4.00 instead of the actual $2.00. I often consider stealing one grape, each day, for three months to break even, but I'll take the high road. If I leave early enough I’ll catch the church bells on my left, a most charming element, and on my right is the music conservatory, a sprawling mansion of grand pianos among other classical instruments. During the spring when the windows are up, live music projects onto the street as my own personal sound track.
Cafe Regular Du Nord. I secure the window seat by tossing my coat on top of it, then approach the counter with a well practiced smile. “Hello, I’ll take a small coffee, black, in a to-go cup please.” I prefer a cup with a lid instead of the house mugs, it preserves the heat. Having paid and sat down, I take a moment to observe my surroundings and assess the noise level. If the barista has a disappointing taste in music, I’ve come prepared. In my upper left breast pocket I keep 32 decibel ear plugs. I’ve never said this to anyone, but inserting them into my ear brings me much satisfaction. I pinch and roll the plugs to a point, lodge them deeply inside the canal, where they expand, slowly, choking out sound one decibel at a time. Bliss.
I’m ready. Everything is in place. If all goes well, I'll be lost in my book and lose track of time, taking a break only when it feels right, stepping outside for a minute to stretch, then repeating the process two or three more times. By 12:30 I’m ready to start some actual work. After lunch, of course.
That’s it, my very own morning ritual. As you can see, I maintain a strict ‘Information Diet’ to start the day. No news, emails, websites or social networking of any kind. Just a stroll, some coffee and a book. Quite frankly, I don't believe hard work is the key to "success." It’s about being happy and effective, not working harder necessarily. With a stress free work day, you can accomplish more with less time. And because you’re happier, you produce better results, faster. For now, try stearing clear of any information until you get to work. I know some of you tweet, and answer emails while still in bed. I promise it feels good to wake up without it. Something to think about.
By Matthew Cooper