Sat-nav for the soul.
As a walk down any city street will tell you – modern life is a distracting and sometimes disorientating place to be. No wonder we shove in our ear-phones and plough on, screening out the background noise and those annoying strangers. Lost in our thoughts.
I am David Pearl, the founder of Street Wisdom. In my new book, I want to suggest there’s actually a world of inspiration we are walking past, full of answers to those questions on your minds.
As you’ll guess from the book’s title – Wanderful – the key is to unhook ourselves from our daily routine, all that rushing from A to B, and find new ways to wander. Not just physically but mentally too. Straight-line thinking is less and less helpful in our complex world. To find a way through all the twists and turns, we need to be Creativity. Wellness. Space. Inspiration. And that requires us to get off the straight and narrow – wandering our way into answers.
The book is based on the experience I’ve gained over many years helping some of the world’s leading companies be more creative, inspiring and, well, human. And more recently in developing the non-profit, urban mindfulness movement called Street Wisdom (click the video on the homepage to learn more about how Street Wisdom works). We started in 2013 with no idea how fast and far this would go. Today, we’re all over the world and every day someone, somewhere starts using our shareware technology.
In the book I’ll show you how to have your own Street Wisdom experiences – turning ordinary city streets into places where you can learn something extraordinary. And we’ll go further, discovering how you can wake up the internal guidance system we all have within us. It helps us set a direction and stay orientated. When in doubt it will nudge you towards choices that are going to be more rewarding, authentic and healthy. That’s why the book’s subtitle is 'SatNav for your Soul'.
It’s not written as a ‘How To’ book you read beginning to end. Where’s the wandering fun in that? Instead I am structuring it a bit like a cityscape you can browse and find your own path through.
Interested in new inspiration? Jump into the middle. Curious to learn more about mindfulness? Go back 10 pages. Want to be well and feel healthier? Turn right, by that tree there. Keen to make better decisions? Stand at this fork in the road. Want to know what comes next? Let’s bypass the next chapter and take a peek around the corner.
I’ll be accompanying you on the journey, sharing thoughts, stories, tips and techniques. And also we’ll be bumping into strangers, people I’ve met along my journey-to-here who have wisdom to share. I won’t tell you who they are now or they wouldn’t be strangers, would they? But I can say they’ll include scientists, activists, artists, business and NGO folk and a sprinkling of famous names.
Wanderful can only happen with your help. So please consider pledging to support the project. And let’s make this confusing planet a little bit more wonderful - and wanderful – together*.
*P.S. Any profit I make from this book will be donated to Street Wisdom which is a non-profit (CIC). So, by pledging you’re not only helping produce this book, but also supporting our mission to bring inspiration to every street on Earth. Thank you.
What People Say:
“Go for a walk – you could discover the meaning of life”
“Join the urban mindfulness revolution”
“Whether for personal exploration or to encourage creativity in business, Street Wisdom is an incredible tool and important movement.”
David D'Souza Head of Engagement & Head of London, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
Street Wisdom is a not-profit global social movement which teaches people how to find clarity and inspiration from the city streets. The modern urban route to mindfulness.
The Road to Here
So here we are, standing on the street. About to set off into this book. It could be any street anywhere but for a moment let me invite you join me in Long Acre, an elegantly curving street in London’s Covent Garden. It’s Spring 2013. And it's raining.
This is a book about how you orientate yourself through a confusing world. So before we head off, let’s take a moment to figure out how we got here.
And as we’re going to be spending a bit of time together, ambling through these pages, it also might be helpful for you know just a little about me and this Street Wisdom thingy I am supposed to have invented. I say “supposed” because truly I feel like it was an idea that I tripped over. And though I have certainly led the way for our non-profit movement, it’s actually been realised by a core of fellow wanderers (Chris, Mel, Mark, Sticky, Rachel, Mark A, Scott…) as well as a large and fast growing network of volunteers around the world.
But let’s not hurry on. If wandering is about anything, it’s about taking the time. And noticing what’s happening around you when you do.
Don’t mind the rain. We city dwellers get all hunched up and grouchy when it rains. As though it’s a personal inconvenience. Just think of it as Nature’s way of reminding us it exists, even in the city. Also, as my mother you to say to us as kids, “you won’t melt”.
If you haven’t visited, Covent Garden used to be London’s main Fruit & Vegetable market. Though there’s no sign of a garden now, back in the 1500’s that’s what it was. A walled convent garden that produced the vegetables for Westminster Abbey. It is the setting for the opening scene of Shaw’s Pygmalion and of My Fair Lady, the film of the play. It’s also home to the Royal Opera House, an imposing, ivory-coloured temple of passions and primadonnas where I spent several years as a child singer. That’s a story we might get to later. Or not. Let’s see where our conversational feet take us.
The Opera House is still much as it was when I was a kid but the area has been scrubbed up and the rotting cabbage leaves I remember being stuck to the cobbles are long gone, but you can sense the mercantile history of these streets in the burnished iron work, the paving stones and glazed colonnades.
Covent Garden is normally awash with visitors, but today the drizzle has kept the tourists away.
Let’s swing up Neals’ Yard and turn left down Monmouth Street. See that big, damp Union Jack flag hanging over that portico? It’s the Covent Garden Hotel. Once a Victorian Hospital. Courtney Love isn’t trashing her suite at the moment, though it’s happened. Across the road the full-on erotica at Agent Provocateur seems out of place until you remember Covent Garden was also at one time London’s red light district.
Right. We’ve arrived at the meeting point. A small roundabout where several streets converge on a pillar bearing six sundials. Welcome to Seven Dials. (In case you’re wondering, the seventh sundial is the pillar itself). And waiting for us are a couple of strangers. One has a clipboard. And the other a big smile.
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These people are helping to fund Wanderful.