When in doubt, Feng takes a nap. My own soothing option is to go for a walk. This is how I deal with stress, anxiety and other weird feelings our human brains create, as if moving my body helped moving things along.
Let’s be honest: when I close the door behind me, I don’t always feel like walking at first. Some days, I have no energy and my muscles are stiff. I sigh. The first few metres are awkward; my body feels heavy and clumsy. Then I pick up some speed and I stand taller. There. I feel better already.
I like to go as far as I can and return to my starting point. I alternate quiet neighbourhoods with crowded ones, urban atmospheres and deserted places. I walk fast, always at the same speed. French people—especially in large cities—are used to get from point A to point B on foot and pedestrian traffic is fluid, more than in Canada where I often claim locals just don’t know how to walk. It’s infuriating when large groups just stand there, in the middle of the street, or when four people walk abreast and don’t let you pass them, and don’t even get me started on cyclists riding full speed on the sidewalk. But in Nantes, except in a few very busy streets, I don’t have to go “excuse me… EXCUSE ME!” every five metres. Even young kids instinctively know how to move with the flow on the sidewalk.
I often end up somewhere along the Loire River. I like the mix of neighbourhoods—quai de la Fosse with its seedy bars and crooked buildings, touristic Île de Nantes with the elephants and overpriced eateries, former industrial sites in various dereliction states, the bike paths and parks along Saint Sébastien. The one- or two-hour walk feels like an accelerated history lesson or a sociological snapshot of Nantes, from the slave trade to the shipbuilding industry, from the working class to the middle class, from a life of labour to conspicuous consumption.
By the time I’m back to my starting point, my legs are tired but I feel lighter. I haven’t solved anything—all the doubts and insecurity I live with are still taking way too much brain space—but I can deal with them. I know that for a fact because I’m human and so are you and from what I’ve seen walking around, we’re all a bunch of slightly insecure souls doing our best to make life an exciting, successful adventure.
I’m not walking on sunshine yet but I did walk off the worries.