“Not all those who wander are lost”, this quote from JRR Tolkien describes the idea of a dérive. Coined by Guy Debord, a dérive is “when one or more persons during a period drop their usual motives of movement … and let themselves be drawn by the attractions and the encounters they find there”.
The first day of the derive, we were put into small groups, handed a map with highlighted locations and told to wander. This project gave us landmarks to photograph along the way, I felt the freedom of being able to roam and explore a different part of Barcelona. The second day contained even more autonomy as we worked with a random partner and given a random location. Here, it was more stressful since we were responsible for finding our way without landmarks to guide us. By walking the city instead of using other methods of transportation, I felt control of my environment and was able to observe my surroundings.
Walking in Barcelona with a partner on the second day allowed for more freedom to explore our assigned neighborhood. We were in charge of finding the landmarks. The first landmark we came across was a neighborhood park with basketball courts and playground equipment. The park was mostly cement, which made it feel gloomy and it was not somewhere I’d want to spend time. The second park we found was adjacent to the iconic cathedral, La Sagrada Familia. This park was lush and featured many plants, trees, benches and an artificial pond. It was apparent this park was made for tourists as they visit the cathedral.
The two different derives helped me realize how much different areas of the city can affect mood. Even walking through the same neighborhood on the same day I noticed changes as we went from the local park that was gloomy and empty, to the tourist park near La Sagrada Familia where I enjoyed the greenery but felt overwhelmed by the tourists. Additionally the stress of navigating on both days made me feel rushed and anxious instead of enjoying the walk. The connection between walking, neighborhoods and mood is something I will take back to Chicago and take into consideration when prescribing walking exercise to the cardiac rehabilitation patients I work with. By creating an exercise plan that improves their mood through the best areas to empower them and improve their mood, yielding better physical and mental results.