What exactly is ‘bimbling’? Psychologist Rachel Ward Lilley explains how it brings a joyful feeling of freedom from the tyranny of routine and relaxes the mind, opening it to fresh experiences that you otherwise might not have encountered.
Planning for recreational trips can sometimes feel like a bit of a chore, especially if we are keen to be reassured by timetables and pre-booked seats. It’s comforting to know that everything has been arranged in advance and that the chances of things going wrong are minimised. Missing a connection or finding that all the seats are taken can be frustrating, annoying and uncomfortable, not to mention eating into the time we had set aside for enjoyment. It makes sense to plan it all in advance. But the journey is only part of the story (even if some of us actively enjoy it). The real prize is the destination: if it is familiar, we have expectations of what we will find when we arrive and if it is novel, there will be an added edge to our anticipations. Whichever it is, we have planned to go there, and we will have certain expectations of what we will find on arrival.
Travel broadens the mind, for sure, but there is an alternative way to discover other places: I call it bimbling. There may be other words for it, but what it boils down to is deliberately not planning a destination, relying on serendipity rather than schedules. This is easier said than done, as it does involve spending precious time on speculative adventures that may or may not pay off, and when our youthful days of reckless adventure are behind us, to travel hopefully does not necessarily feel better than arriving. Yet still it can be worthwhile, and I do it whenever I can, bimbling in my campervan, that universal symbol of the freewheeling spirit.
Campervans make it easier to indulge the fantasy of freedom – and it is a fantasy, on the whole, since we are generally tied by some degree of duty or responsibility. Nevertheless, whenever I get the opportunity to bimble, I relish it. Arriving at unfamiliar places, I never cease to wonder about what life is like for the people who live there. I speculate on how it differs from my own and how those differences affect their attitudes to the world.
Of course, there is a risk that some of the places visited may turn out to be unrewarding, yet this is a small price to pay for the potential benefits of bimbling: it induces a joyful feeling of freedom from the tyranny of routine; it relaxes the mind, releasing it from the stresses of anxiety; it rejuvenates zest for life by opening the mind to places and experiences unexpected; it stimulates the imagination by confronting it with the unfamiliar; and, at its best, it obliges us to engage with people we have never met, picking up on fresh perspectives and, perhaps, making new friends or acquaintances. In my case, it even led to my moving home! I now live in a place that I had never planned to, nor even thought of before. That’s a fairly radical outcome, but just opening the door to let a chink of light shine on other possibilities is enough to have the desired effect of re-setting our expectations, broadening our outlook and opening our eyes to other possibilities – all the classic benefits of travel and stepping out of your comfort zone.
Rachel Ward Lilley is a business and educational psychologist. She has worked for many years advising SMEs and her current work relates to issues of resilience, communication, personal development, team building and motivation. Over the past 12 years Rachel has extended her work into the educational field. Find out more here.