Tracker Training in the City

By | May 27, 2013

Recently two people took a group on a tour of New York City—using a map of Copenhagen. Another group toured the city by walking an algorithm: take the second left, the next right, and the next left, and then repeat. A woman hung poster paper and magic markers in public places around the city for people to answer questions, such as “Where were you the last time you cried?” and “What smell reminds you of home?” Another person reverse shoplifted by subtly redesigning products and placing them on store shelves.

These people were trackers in training.  In the city we usually proceed from A to B and miss nearly everything in between. We ignore smells and sounds and the memories attached to them. We pass by curiosities and what they might lead to.  We note the weather only if it poses some inconvenience, and we have no idea in what direction we are traveling. However, the people above were doing just what I do in tracking classes: helping people step aside from their accustomed paths and predictable behaviors and open to a fuller awareness of their surroundings.

In the woods it’s called tracker training; in the city it’s called psychogeography.  But whatever you care to call it, the important point here is that we don’t have to wait until we can get out to some natural area to work on awakening our innate tracking ability. We can be anywhere in the city, we can be on the job, or we can be out for the evening.

Google parapsychology for more ideas on what you can do. Here are some guiding points: Be neither goal oriented nor aimlessly wandering—have an abstract structure that is sure to lead to surprises. Notice the patterns—or lack of pattern—in the people, buildings, and landscape. Keep attuned to weather, location, and direction of travel (get tips Immerse yourself in whatever feelings, memories, and sensations come up. And above all, have fun!

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