Wednesday, May 30, 2018

small white signs

You are older now and the world does not offer itself up as easily, it seems. The world rises up to meet children with forgiving elasticity, but resists adults. Is that because we are not as skilled at receiving what leaps out to us with open hands?

My backpack beginning to weigh more heavily, I reach the first relief of a downhill stretch of sidewalk, and I let my feet fly off the pedals, as gravity pulls me forward into this small patch of woods.

As I begin to pick up speed around the tight turn, an albino squirrel scampers from the slick sidewalk into the cover of the rain-soaked brush. He is exactly like the ones that used to cross our path on the many ice cream trips we made to the store with my grandfather growing up. As the squirrel dodges my spinning bike wheels, I can only think of my grandparents pointing them out to us on our ritual expeditions.

Then, they were magical—how can a squirrel be white?—now they are sacramental, holding the memories of people now gone and routines laid to rest.

Perhaps this squirrel is magical—or sacred—and enchants—or blesses—this moment, as I speed through the lush overhanging trees of Minnesota forest, my legs spread out on either side, being pulled along at the speed of—

it is important, I think, to move through the world with the proper momentum. I do not like slow-walking or slow-moving. The world demands more from us than plodding. There is something correct, I think, in the joy of rushing through the beautiful, not for a utilitarian sense of getting to the end faster, but because the journey itself is utterly transfigured when you move through the world too quickly for thought. Details leap out from the scenery, apprehend you and transfix you, defying critical appraisal, wrapping you in the sum total of all their parts.

Moving quickly is not moving mindlessly, but it is moving without ego. Speed disabuses us of the fantasy that we are outside the scene, a qualified spectator of what unfolds. To find myself flying, legs splayed out like hopeful wings from the bicycle, praying for a gust of wind to life us off the asphalt, is to find myself intimately part of the beauty which surrounds me. I do not just see it, I am with it and in it, and that is strong consolation.

In this moment—for at least a moment—I am part of this thing which is beautiful. Which restores, for more than just one moment—

joy.

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