About Les Flâneurs
We've been looking for the right phrase to describe the next phase of our life. Retirement is the wrong word, because it seems to suggest withdrawal from "life" or a cessation of productive activity. While we do revel in retiring from the daily grind of chasing the wage, we do not "retire to do nothing."
The term "Encore Phase" shows some promise, because it indicates a continuation of the performance. At least it's more active than "retirement" which is also somewhat its failing. This phase is not about performance, per se, although our intentions are to continue to add value in some way.
We keep coming back to the French term "flâneur," as defined on Wikipedia:
Flâneur (pronounced: [flɑnœʁ]), from the French noun flâneur, means "stroller", "lounger", "saunterer", or "loafer". Flânerie is the act of strolling, with all of its accompanying associations. A near-synonym is boulevardier.
A more complete examination of the word, and dare we say, the philosophy, is found here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flâneur
So, is a flâneur an "idler" or "an urban explorer, a connoisseur of the street?" We choose to focus on the active component here and think of ourselves as "connoisseurs of the street". To extend the definition to our own emerging view, we think of ourselves as "purposeful wanderers."
In some sense, to observe is also to interact. As Wikipedia notes: "While Baudelaire characterized the flâneur as a "gentleman stroller of city streets," he saw the flâneur as having a key role in understanding, participating in, and portraying the city. "
We consider that the 21st century flâneur has several key tools at their disposal, which would have delighted their 19th century antecedents, many of which are accessible by the screen-phones we all carry:
access to the internet for immediate information,
online tools, such as Trip Advisor and Yelp, to research sites of interest,
the camera, to record what we see, and,
social media, such as Facebook and this very blog, where we can share our experiences with others.
Yet, we must caution about over reliance upon our screen-phones, lest we become victims of the "man with a hammer syndrome." Not every challenge is a nail which can be addressed by "smacking it" with said hammer. The particular danger of our screen-phones is that they can place us inside a bubble that we must consciously break out of by putting down the device, and speaking directly to our fellow flâneurs, our waiters, our museum docents, our taxi drivers and the rich pageant of people who surround us.
Since we have chosen to extend and, indeed, invest in the further definition of the term, we choose to consider that the concept can be expressed as a philosophy as well as a simple act or set of behaviors. The philosophy combines the actions of continuous research, observation and interaction with a scene or experience and the continuous evolution of our thinking about the subject at hand.
Flânerie then becomes more than "the act of strolling, with all of its accompanying associations," it becomes a way in which we approach what we choose to do with the rest of our lives; how we choose where we live, where we travel, how we choose to "do good" or "give back" to society both to thank our society for what it gives to us and to further improve it for others.
We post our opinions about what we see, taste and experience on Yelp and Trip Advisor. We seek travel with other like-minded flâneurs, not merely to share our delight with friends, but to learn from and delight in their reactions to the scene before us. And we seek opportunities for work that will improve the lives of others. If we can find balance among these opportunities, we may achieve so much more than "retirement." We can find a way to live the rest of our lives that provides delight, not just for ourselves, but for all of our fellow flâneurs.