Coddiwomple

It’s something you might expect to happen in a favorite children’s story or perhaps a cartoon. I can imagine Winnie the Pooh doing it, wandering the 100 acre wood, or maybe Calvin with Hobbs.

“Because Poetry and Hums aren’t things which you get, they’re things which get you. And all you can do is to go where they can find you.”                              –The House at Pooh Corner

One can do it on foot, in a car, or any other form of transportation. I imagine one could even do it in a dream or a daydream—to coddiwomple that is.

Coddiewomple is reportedly an old English slang verb meaning to wander purposely but with no clear destination.

Often I used to get in my car (each car had a name, sometimes male or sometimes female); and I might say it even out loud, “Roger, take me somewhere.” And then I would let the car choose directions and turns. Of course, this was just a ruse to use my intuition. Though one time it brought me to the house of a colleague and when I started the drive I did not know where she lived. From that visit, we became friends (now 30 some years) and I am her daughter’s godmother.

So, because I’ve been coddiwompling for so long, forgive me that I convert the verb to a noun, and say that I love “to take a coddiwomple” much in the same way as someone might “take a cup of tea”. To take a coddiwomple is to allow the possibility of discovery, to explore the unknown. I do this very purposefully, especially when I have no idea of what I want to discover. Rather I want something (much like Pooh’s poetry and hum) to find me, so I must go somewhere.

Meditation is like this, too. I sit down and purposely get as quiet as I can and then some surprise usually shows up in this journey of silent attention.

As a frequent world traveler, I usually set out on foot and wander. My purpose is to explore the place and allow the surprise of what I find and the people and situations I meet. My first time is Paris, staying the Marais (near the 5th arrondisement), I set out on foot with a friend along the right bank of the Seine. 

Le Marais
Along the Seine

We had no special destination in mind, just to walk this so very walkable city with its amazing light, sights, sounds and food. At one point I needed to find a restroom and walked for quite a while in search of one and had begun to feel urgency about it. Finally, I saw what looked to be a large administrative building and I said, “Let’s go in there. Surely they will have a bathroom.” That building was the Louvre, and it was a Tuesday and it was closed.

Louvre
Louvre Pyramid

Fortunately, there are free and pay public restrooms sprinkled (pardon the pun) around Paris. So after a brief pit stop and resting on the steps of the Louvre gift shop to take in the scene, we turned left and continued walking. We found ourselves in the Tuileries Gardens. There we enjoyed the statues (and the birds sitting on them), the flowers that were in bloom at that season, and the people enjoying the park.

We continued walking in the same direction and found ourselves on the famed Champs-Elysées. I remembered thinking of this as such a romantic place when I was an elementary school student doing a report on it, and was disappointed to find that it was basically a very wide street with a lot of upscale shopping, including a Disney store.

At the end of the Champs-Elysées was an underground passageway to the base of the Arc de Triomphe which stands at the center of the Étoile (Star) roundabout. Circling around the Arc, we took a left and continued walking for quite a while, eventually and surprisingly finding ourselves viewing the Eiffel Tower. To get to it we crossed one of the many bridges over the Seine. 

There was no pre-determined destination to this journey. We simply coddiwompled—purposefully moving with only a vague destination. Unintentionally, we saw so many of the main tourist attractions and so much more that we might never have seen if we predetermined our journey.

Over the years I have coddiwompled in much of the U.S. (especially the mountains of Colorado), Madrid, Hanoi, Danang, Singapore, England and the Netherlands.

I highly recommend a good coddiwomple.

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