Creative Writing Post: Walking
This is a meditation on modern urban life, social isolation and the illusion of priorities when we interact with the natural world.
The only goal of his walk
(the only goal he ever had)
was to fill a basket at the grocery store
and make his way back through the city streets
to unload his bananas on the counter-top.
He’d tried wandering along the avenues and the boulevards
tried to lose his mind
tried to “make like Thoreau” and saunter through absolute freedom and wildness.
But alas, the metropolis forbids this.
At the end of every street there is a destination
some final point to which he comes
and from which he will return:
as if to say that wandering for the sake of wandering
was the ancient religion of his forefathers.
Modernity had taken care of this pagan ritual
and installed concrete pathways
from here to the River Styx.
Now, there was no need to linger among the peonies
no need to contemplate the chrysanthemums
no need to have the end goal of his slogging be anything but bananas.
He often walked without ever hearing the birds.
Eventually they just stopped chirping,
having no one left to sing for.
And soon he would forget.
An acquired amnesiac,
he would begin to think that life
was just in front of his computer
his desk at work
his toilet seat.
He would begin to think that this was all there was
and all there ever would be:
that there was no magic or miracles,
that the faculty of wonder was lost to the traffic of consumption.
He would begin to think that life only began
when the groceries had been bought
but not paid for
with the knowledge of where they’d come from.
“Why, groceries came from the store, didn’t they?”
But one night, when thunder shook his city
and the lightening cast shards of luminosity
through his window,
he came out from under his bedsheets to look at the rain.
It fell from the sky.
Little drops of water
falling from the sky,
pieces of the ageless ocean
recycling itself irrelevant of us.
Little drops of water
like the kisses of angels
that might leave flowers as lip-prints wherever they go.
And as he shuffled to the door in his cotton pajamas,
he found himself wanting to step out into that rain.
His slippers hesitated on the threshold of the landing,
growing soggy as the droplets tried to enter the house
by way of the wind.
And there he wavered,
balancing in the door frame
between what he was
and what he thought he was.
He stood there a long time
staring out into the dark street
whose lights had gone out in the storm.
He glanced at his watch
glanced to his countertop.
Yes, there was still time to go get some bananas.