Forward, upward, onward!

As expats, creatives, entrepreneurs – as humans – we long to grow. We work hard, think hard with the aim to find the right words, product, job, relationship, gig or tribe for us to thrive and grow.

I’m the same – constantly on the go. At times full of hope and energy. At other times full of worry and seemingly no direction. Striving forward – ‘cause that’s the direction life, culture and community constantly tell you to go. Forward, upward, onward!

Forward, upward, onward were also on my mind when I in June had a rare Saturday morning to myself in Copenhagen. A sunny morning with no plans, no appointments or must dos. My auto-pilot led me to think I should go shopping, look for the books and clothes I needed to bring back to Kenya…

Then I recalled a friend’s suggestion to go explore the performance called REVERSE – a backward walk through central Copenhagen created by the Dutch artist; Johannes Bellinkx. I am fascinated by walking and what the movement does to your conversations, thoughts and creativity – and hence I was curious. 

Equipped with a headset playing an audio montage created along the road in a different season. After a 5 minute instruction on how to navigate the symbols on the path and the physical awkwardness of backward walk. And trying to get my brain to navigate the initial premise and question for the walk: 

“We are always on our way forward, believing in progress and the future. What if we turned around and turned our back on the future? – Literally speaking.

Johannes Bellinkx, REVERSE

Off I went – walking backward – no looking back. Eyes fixed forward with the guiding white line on the ground between your feet and in the periphery of the sight ahead. Sounds in my ears of everyday life – kids playing basketball, skateboarding, traffic, conversations between bypassers (all so so real, but not matching the surrounding life and people). 

Through the food market, across the busy roads gently guided by the hands of a volunteer (no need to look back – trusting the hands and the signs on the line), through parks, into a church (the organ started playing – in my ears – the moment I stepped) out at the back, through a park, across parking lots, between housing, down in the basement of a university building, across lawns (the audio suggesting i walked in dry leaves and autumn puddles), into a huge tropical greenhouse, down stairs, through gates, to end up being placed on a small ramp and tilted backward to lie down – ending the walk with 10 min of floating, looking into the clear blue sky, the top of the pine trees and the edge of the nearby roof….

As I lay there – and for hours, days and even now almost a year later, I wonder how powerful it is to change perspectives once in a while. When you walk into the future looking at what is, your entire worldview changes. Your senses switch on in a different way – you can no longer rely mainly on your sight.

Expectations – own and others – have to fall. You become present, aware – and in a strange way…enough. You are still moving, still on the go – but without the constant demand of forward, upward, onward growth. Your senses are subtly taking in what IS in front of you – you lean in and surrender to that sense of peace.

That hour blew all my perspectives on direction, progress, future, growth, the known and unknown – SO much food for thought… and all I did differently was physically moving backward!

There are so many ways to explore and challenge perspectives – and so much to be gained from doing it on a regular basis. So much learning and valuable insights to afterwards apply across the steps that make up our path – forward, backward, upwards, downwards, sideways or seemingly at a complete standstill.

If you dare to surrender, you see how something as simple as turning an everyday action around gives you brand new perspectives on, where you are.”

Johannes Bellinkx, REVERSE

WonderWalk – in groups and individually – aims to do just that. Assist you in gaining perspective and insights for you to move in the direction which is just right for you.

When did you last challenge your perspectives?

You can get a sense of the experience here (in Danish – but even without words you get a sense…)

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