I wrote this blog post 39 times in my head that morning.
I hurried past the school and up the hill. Slow. Down. What’s. The. Rush? You. Aren’t. Some. Teenager. You. Don’t. Like. A. Rushed. Commute. So. Why. Rush. The. Walk?
I listened to the wind, took longer strides, felt the sway of my hips as the muscles moved my legs, one after the other. I thought of piston fluid. I slowed down. My breathing slowed. I looked up; back east, pretty much everyone used to look at the ground when they walked. I don’t know why but for me, it was always with the desire to find a piece of money.
Once when I lived in South River, just outside New Brunswick in Jersey, I was walking opposite my apartment and saw a dollar bill. I grabbed it and up ahead saw another. And another. And another. All told I think I scored about six or seven dollars that day. Joy of my miserable life at the time.
I wrote this blog post 48 times in my head that morning.
Looking up as I walked my neighborhood now helped me feel the straightening and elongation of my spine. I could see the day around me, admire it. I heard the birds, noticed homes and landscaping that I had missed for ages. I tried to only glance down to avoid landmines of poop left by those who refused to curb their animals.
I listened to the wind. Slow. And. Steady. Will. Get. You. To. The. Top. Without. Stopping. What’s. The. Rush?
As I looked up and ahead, I thought of Lonely Mountain, where Smaug lives. Might there be a Kingdom under the Mountain waiting for me?
I felt myself walking faster and as I did, I hunched over and looked down. That’s. Not. Good, the wind said.
I slowed again, this time noticing I was about three blocks from the top. I hadn’t stopped, except to pause at the corners in case there were drivers in too much of a hurry to give the pedestrian right of way. The hill is steep at this point and I slowed more. From where I began at the lower part of the street, it is at least a 7% grade. Maybe more for those last three blocks. I felt my age, felt my aches and pains. I felt old. You. Aren’t. Old. The wind was whispering again, encouraging me forward and upward. You. Are. Sensible. The. Top. Will. Be. There. Whether. You. Walk. Or. Run.
I looked up as I approached the end of the sidewalk, marking the top of my Lonely Mountain.
It was at this spot where I took the photo that started this writing.
I wrote this blog post 64 times in my head that morning.
I turned and saw that I had made it to the top without stopping. I hadn’t rushed, I hadn’t been out of breath. Yet my muscles yearned for rest as if I’d taken a run. I turned and headed toward home but as I neared the first corner, the wind spoke: The. Way. Is. Not. Direct.
Life is not direct. When I left home at 18, I never could have imagined that I would have experienced 1/32nd of the things I have in the many years since. So many tears, such loss, such triumph, such despair, such joy, such sadness, such amusement. I turn left and wandered through the neighborhood. One man paused to give me a weary ‘hello’, the sweat glistening off his forehead from his exertion at washing his car. I continued downward until it was just the wind and I again.
Look. Up. Look. Ahead. Take. It. Slow.
I talked to twin dogs — ‘Hey babies’ I called — who barked at me from behind a fence; they seemed confused that I did not rush away. But I was listening to the wind and taking it slow. Instead of taking the straight way down and to the right to get home, I turned right at the next block.
Toward the end of the way, I happened to look down:
I wrote this blog post 96 times in my head that morning.
You. Are. Here. Enjoy. It. The wind whispered, Now. Look. Up. Look. Ahead. Slow. Down. Be. Here.
I turned left and headed down toward home. There were more people now, folks walking dogs, people out watering lawns. I smiled at the woman, standing in her pajamas at her driveway, chatting in animated fashion with her friend. I turned left and headed for home.
I felt myself speeding up and took a deep breath. Work would be there. Aggravations would be there. I needed a few more minutes of feeling the wind in my spirit. I slowed my gait and looked up and ahead, considering the path of my life. I am no longer who I was — despite the parts of me that won’t change, like the way my feet go in nearly opposite directions because of their flatness or the way I say certain words, I am not a throwback — and I am not yet who I will be next.
I look up and wonder what that ‘next’ will be. Don’t. Worry. Live. And. It. Will. Come. Just. Go. With. The. Flow. Of. Life’s. Winds.
I wrote this blog post 108 times in my head that morning.
I sauntered up my driveway and after talking with my pups for a bit, set to work. I cleared out yet one more space, gave away stuff, vacuumed and cleansed it. The dogs were thrilled and took it for their own. Go with the flow, indeed.
I wrote this blog post 326 times in my head. Today.
But now it’s yours. Listen to the wind. Don’t be a throwback. Unless you want to, unless that’s where the Path has you for now. Maybe I’ll see you out there and we’ll both know we were here.