Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Peeking Through the Dirt

A man working a bulldozer watched me. I was walking down what I suppose everyone else thinks of as the service road, where construction on I-30 has been going on in anticipation of a perpetually soon-to-be-built Walmart. The road is being widened to account, I suppose, for the increased traffic, and an overpass or underpass or some such human devised car thoroughfare is being put together. He seemed to be suspicious of me. And perhaps I don't blame him. Where I walked, there was no sidewalk. The street itself barely had enough room for the cars squeezing through on the way to the local Sonic before carting the people inside them to work. Grass and tall sunflowers dominated the area off the road. I doubt the man was used to seeing people there. And who walks anymore, or stops to admire the tiny purple flowers peeking through the dirt?

yesterday the wet grass
brushed against my ankles
dew soaked through
my old shoes
cooling ugly feet
this morning
i see the same path
has been mown
and those same blades
lie in color-drained piles

The more I walk, the more I cannot help but see progress as "a comfortable disease," as E. E. Cummings put it. It isn't always true, but why does the pedestrian have to seem like a stranger, perhaps a threat? Has the world changed so much that someone with a walking stick and in no hurry is not only unusual, but something to worry over? That sidewalks seem left out of city planning pretty much answers my question.

Of course, I don't know what is going on in his head, and I have plenty to keep my own brain busy. A good walk is more about the inner journey than specific (or planned) destinations. The outsider sees someone out of place, on the way to somewhere. The insider is observing, going in circles away from human treadmills. The body may get exercise, but the mind and spirit are exorcised.

Before long, I'll be on my own bulldozer. I hope that before I am, the real work of pushing out of the dark soil will ride with me. I'll measure my own progress by the flowers making their way to the surface.