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 television

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.

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