Friday, May 17, 2013

Perhaps You'll Walk

Perhaps you'll walk today. God knows it's a good day for it, one of the nicest in months, and you've always liked getting the exercise anyway. The sun is out and everything. Perhaps the sidewalk will have filled with the people whom you suspect of springing forth merely to be observed by you (rest assured, they suspect the same of you). If you are pensive or brooding today, you might like some earbuds. When you're young enough, they'll do to drown out the existential questions for a while. That trick gets harder as you age, though. It might even be the case that the truly young need never hear the thrum-thrumming of the existential just beneath the surface of the conscious, but to those who have been forced to confront it, or those with the ears to hear it, it pounds like a war drum in a primeval forest. Or perhaps today is the day you'd like to take on those questions, mull them over a bit, chew on them like gristle, hoping something worthwhile emerges. Your choices are the direct approach and the oblique one. So far you've not made much progress with the direct approach.

Perhaps as you walk by, you'll glance up at the Castrofilippo Society and wonder, not for the first time, what it actually is, and knowing that you won't bother to look it up later. Perhaps you'll overhear a bit of conversation from a passing couple. "Thank you for saving me," says the woman to the man. It's a curious enough line that you might wonder what it means. And later on, perhaps you'll hear your children talking to their friends on the way to school, and you will suddenly realize your sons are rising while your own ball of fire hurtles through space to its horizon. As you walk, it will have occurred to you multiple times to adjust this or that piece of clothing, even though you're convinced that appearances mean nothing to you.

On this same walk, you have nodded your greeting to the crossing guard each time. Today maybe she'll say she's retiring soon. This year or maybe next. Or perhaps you and all the other pedestrians will be standing on the corner while drivers with varying understandings of the laws of physics plow through intersections. You've witnessed accidents here in the past, but fortunately never those involving pedestrians.

Down the road, perhaps you'll walk through or near the picket line outside a grocery store, where some of the workers have blown the whistle on one or another practice they've observed within the walls of the store. You'll maybe read the signs that admonish the workers for lying, or the ones that prohibit photography in the store, and they'll remind you of some documentaries you've seen in the past.

Because the wheels are already turning in your head, and because you've maybe chosen to walk, today will be the day that all the disconnected thoughts intruding on every contemplation will resolve themselves with a crystal clarity, and you'll scribble some notes on paper to get them out of your head. Perhaps you'll write something useful down before the clarity fades, and the things you want to say complete their metamorphosis to ephemera, blown like ash on the wind. Perhaps today you'll get to say just what you've always wanted to say, instead of forgetting the moment your fingers touch the keyboard and a single speck of dust, undisturbed since its settling there the night before, falls between the keys.

As you walk, you'll wonder again whether it's delivery day at the butcher shop. Despite your origins in places known for processing meat, you hadn't actually seen a butcher shop before moving here, and the sight is always a curiosity to you, especially on delivery day. On delivery day, men in white aprons smudged with blood cart the stiff-legged, frozen carcasses of goats from within their freezer trucks. The goats are skinless, of course, their lidless eyes condemning you for their fate. You'll smugly remind yourself that you aren't complicit in their murder, because you are a vegetarian and only murder plants. If the frozen goats don't provide enough reminder, the sight of them hanging in the window, plastic bags wrapped around their downturned heads to catch the blood that drips past their bared teeth, usually does the trick.

By this point you will have nearly reached the train station, and your only hope is that the trains are running on time, and that you won't be late to work. You could have taken the bus. It was an option. But it's a nice day, and perhaps you thought a walk would be better.