A way to explore your town for an hour as if it was a long-lost kingdom.
We all get in a rut every now and then. At some point, we grow a little too comfortable in our own routines, making our daily lives agonizingly predictable.
Routines can be important for many reasons, of course. They can help in the conversation of mental energy for the more demeaning tasks, as well as with the management of time over the course of the work day. But when our routines begin to make us feel dull, when they begin to numb our curiosity and desires for new experiences, that’s when it’s time to go back to the drawing board and try something a little different.
International travel is something we all dream of doing, whether that be in the form of an exhilarating hike up a fjord in Iceland, or through the humble experience of relaxing in a café in downtown Buenos Aires, tapping in on the local’s discussions, whilst sipping on some mate. And while having experiences overseas or across a boarder is a chapter in the book of life everyone should read up on, it’s equally important to explore your own city—be like a tourist for an hour or two every once in a while in your own town.
It is interesting how many of us travel off to these faraway cities when searching desperately for something new to experience, and eventually begin to feel better acquainted with something like the endless districts of a Nambian city, or with the roads of a sprawling Parisian neighborhood, much more than the ones that are right outside our front door.
Shortly before moving across the country to Portland, Maine from Northern California, I had begun to fall into the daily trap of unnecessary angst. My sense of curiosity for exploring the areas around me was beginning to dwindle. I told myself that I had seen it all within my locality, and there was nothing left to see. However, that is never actually the case—there is always something out there to be experienced.
To push myself away from falling into the cycle of monotony again, I’ve begun acting on something I like to call the Three Points System every other day over the last several weeks.
The idea behind the Three Points System is simple: pick three points within the vicinity of your city or area and follow that up by getting delightfully (and strategically) lost for an hour using your two feet. These points can be based off anything from landmarks to iconic storefronts, they can be something like small neighborhood bakeries, or even a random address.
Once you’ve established a point (or all three), simply use that point as your base and walk around for an hour, in any direction, scanning for visual cues that gather your curiosity to make sudden turns or changes in your course. You’ll notice immediately that there will be something new or unknown to you; whether that be in the form of walking past a coffee shop that may have just opened across town, coming across a sweet urban hiking trail to go running on, or by having an experience with someone through a conversation that wouldn’t have been had if you weren’t walking around.
An easier way to start out is by making your home one of the three points. In this way, you become better acquainted with the surrounding areas of your town as well as what’s immediately around you.
How you find the points are up to you—using Google Maps to get a bird’s eye view of your exploring area, randomly driving around until you pick a spot that suits your fancy, or by simply strapping on your boots, grabbing a water, and walking out the front door.
The funny thing about the Three Points System is that it doesn’t really have a clear goal or end in sight, nor in mind. The motive behind the system is quite simple: to get you outside and moving, to push you to experience a place you probably hadn’t been to before, and to feed and grow your curiosity for your own town or city, which I think is a wonderful thing.