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Barefooted at The Hilton

“It’s been about eight months since I could just take off my shoes and not worry about it,” Steve says as he settles in to his camp spot. “It might not look like much to someone else, but for me, it’s the Hilton.”

Steve has been living rough, sleeping under a Japanese Maple tree bounded by an old warehouse building on one side and a dead end on the other, for months now. He lost his marriage and family, his home, his grounding. “I didn’t know how to walk out that door,” he says. That’s when he started drinking away the pain. At first it was manageable but then he couldn’t get through the morning without a beer. He eventually wound up losing his job too.

For most of his days he sits in the same spot holding the peace for the others who come by and need a person to talk to, someone who can hear them. Steve is that guy for a crowd of folks who come just to sit, talk, take some comfort from the relentless hardness of a life lived outside, in the open, never silent, never private. He is the dispenser of wisdom and hugs. Handshakes and “Now c’mon, you’re going to be okay.”

“Oh yea, you can’t take your shoes off ever. If you need to move quickly in the night, then you’ve got to have your shoes on. If you leave them around, they’ll be taken.”

It’s not something I’ve ever thought of and I’ve thought about a lot in the past many years I’ve been taking down the stories of the homeless. But his big smile, his exclamation of comfort sitting on the picnic bench at the shear joy of bare feet in the grass had not registered before. Not until I saw it, did I get it.

Bare feet.

No old shoes taped together, too tight or loose with rigged laces and lumpy soles, smelling of feet in dirty socks for months without end.

Naked feet, toes stretching, arch bending, skin touching soft grass and dirt. Wow.

His eyes cast over to the grate on the fire pit, I’ve loaned him some camp gear. The small fry pan and cook pot arranged there are part of the offering. “I don’t know if I can stand to leave that. I may need to hide it. It looks like something, someone might take. I know it’s not supposed to be that way here, but I’m not sure if I can trust it. Not yet.”

He’s looking at the things on the picnic table—eggs, chili, tortillas, fork,spoon,knife and some plates. There is also a new towel and soap. Here he can shower every day if he wants.

“It’s almost too nice. I’m afraid to enjoy it.”

I’ve put him up in a local campground for the week. He needs a break. There are five other spots in a row right down the line from him. The sites are small but lush with trees for shade, trimmed grass and picnic spots. “Now see all these empty spaces. Why couldn’t we put up the rest right here? James, Elise, Robert. Would it be so hard to figure out a way for people to camp legally and sleep without having to fear being woken up by the cops–or worse?”

He’s back looking at his stuff scattered around the campsite, including a one person tent.

“I don’t know how I’m going to do. It’s weird,” he says looking like a kid being dropped off at summer camp. “I think it’ll be nice. I’m going to try to drink less beer. I don’t have to be around anybody so this might be a good way to start.”

It’s hard in the morning. He feels physical pain and terrible anxiety. His body can be pretty shaky. “It’s really tough before the first beer. But if I don’t have to talk or be around people I might be able to start.”

Soon he’ll be admitted into a program. It’s only a few weeks off but now that he knows it’s coming he’s struggling to stand it outside. Sometimes when you know a tough time is about to get better, the waiting can be excruciating. “It’s just harder each day. You can say it’s only a few weeks but it feels so long now.”

That’s part of the reason we hatched this camp site idea. “I think I’ll go to an AA meeting tomorrow,” he says. “I can shower up and clean my clothes and go.”

Steve smiles easily and while he looks a bit awkward in the store supplying up for the campout, he gets through it. “Just pretend it’s back in the old days when you took your son camping. This is you taking a vacation. That’s all,” I tell him this while I’m convincing him to let me buy him some food.

For some folks who live rough going into a store or sitting down at a restaurant is too much. I’ve had both men and women tell me they can’t do it because they are too afraid of making a scene, of being thrown out in front of me.

Steve was a successful guy for most of his life. He grew up in a nice home and made his way in the building trades. He was in a long marriage and fully expected he’d round out his life that way. But when he could no longer go home and the job slowed to a crawl during the recession, the bottom fell out. He was something he had never imagined–a homeless man.

Depression hit him hard and he discovered a deeply buried secret–he’d struggled with it most of his life. It was in his family too. He’d been known to drink beer at the end of the day but he figured it was no big deal. Until it all came down on him at once.

Now it weighs on him daily.

He’s been in and out of rehab a few times. “What makes me think it’ll stick this time? Maybe this is who I am,” he says despairingly. I tell him it’s really his call. Once he gets through the physical detox he gets to decide.

“I think it’s just the loneliness. It will make you crazy.” I assure him I know. But it’s possible I don’t know. The kind of loneliness a person feels who is homeless is an entirely different level. A homeless person is invisible and highly visible all at once. I’ve been told more than once that people see a drunk or a bum or an addict, they rarely see a person.

That’s a whole other kind of alone, I imagine.

Yet, here he is on this afternoon with the sun making a sharp line through the trees illuminating his face. The river is flowing and he is barefoot and smiling.

Yes, maybe this is the time it sticks.

We sit and talk for awhile. I feel weird leaving him here. “Hey next time you see me–would you mind bringing me a book? I’d love to get some reading in. Maybe some kind of spiritual book or something uplifting,” he says as I pick up my keys to leave. “There goes Grapes of Wrath. I was going to bring you that.” We both laugh.

“I’d read it. I suppose I’ve lived it in some ways.”

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The Diary of the Dirt Lot

I like the misfits, poets, drunks and fuck ups. And the guys who make constellations out of spray paint on cardboard. I like the people who don’t fit in boxes, the ones who blurt out and stomp away steely mad with a glower and a grin.

I like the people in dirt lots, with untrimmed toe nails and a dog on a rope whom he feeds before he eats. Guys like Tim who carries a guitar and plays it well. His fingers are black with dirt and he hasn’t had a comb to his hair in months but his guitar is shining like the tears glistening in his girls eyes when he plays. She’s going to prison this time.  “I can’t get past the white,” she whispers.

I don’t know about white but I know about things I can’t get past. Honesty is one of them. And there’s so much of it out here between nowhere and nothing where there’s too much time and not enough of it. Out here where the outcasts scurry under their trees at night hiding from the good people.

Time goes on like a backwards clock. Everyone wanting to forget all the time–except me. I want to remember this.

Yea, I like the hippies too with the odd gifts and names and hopes that run down a path only they can see. He keeps extra stuff–batteries, socks, water–just in case someone needs it.

Nothing fits out here but it all makes it own sense as the dust curls up around the scuffed shoes and he smiles and waves at his friend on the bike. “He got hit by a car, but he’s okay.”

Yea, he’s okay in this outliers universe where nothing fits but everything belongs.

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The long, patient journey of the chess master “bum.”

Some folks saw him riding his bike through town. They saw he was most likely homeless and they thought no more of him.

Until one day, Randy told me his story. It’s as tragic as any Shakespeare play and twice as real.

I wrote it up for my local newspaper and I hope it sees its day there. But I also want to share it here because Randy and his hero’s journey need to be seen anywhere they can be. It is a story of incredible suffering, patience and eventual peace:

Sitting in the shade of a tree at Lithia Park, any day of the week and most times of the day, Randy Dollinger has his chess board out. A small sign reads “Chess?”

The peaceful scene gives no clue as to the long road Randy has traveled. “I always wanted to make money with chess, somehow,” the 63 year old Ashland resident tells me while waiting for his next student. That yearning was born of a short, tragedy infused career in the cut throat competitive world of tournament chess. It is as unforgiving as it is unyielding.

He began playing chess in his native North Carolina at the age of 12. Within two years he rose through the fierce world of tournament chess to eventually become the state champion at 17, ranked tenth in the nation.

Randy was among the few young, elite champions of his day, even spending time with international chess prodigy Bobby Fischer. “He showed me an opening which helped me win a tournament. He came to watch me play.” He smiles, “Sometimes people can’t believe that story. But it’s true.”

At the pinnacle of his playing Randy had one of his games published. “Two pages in Chess Life. It went all over the world.”

“ I played in all the great cities, I played in 30 tournaments.” He eventually became the only chess player with the ranking of “expert” bestowed by the US Chess Federation in his home state. “People came from all over the East Coast to watch me play.”

He was unstoppable until five years after he began it ended- in the seat of his friend’s car. “I was 17. The passenger in a car, “ he says slowly and thoughtfully. “We got into a wreck. My friend lost control and ran into a tree.”

Randy was injured in a life altering way. “I was in a coma for a week. Then the doctor said it’d be a couple years before my brain would be back in order before I could do the things I had been doing.”

But he couldn’t wait. He lost patience. He had to get back in the game. He went against his doctors orders and went back to playing. “I came to tournaments with my head bandaged, walking on crutches.”

He could not accept it. Randy feared if he took too much time out he would be forgotten.

“I started playing too fast. I lost tournaments, I lost rating points.” Randy leans in and tells the story which changed his life. He is not dramatic but matter of fact and precise. He describes being in a tournament with a crowd looking on and suddenly going blank, not knowing what to do. He had never experienced that before. “I just understood the game right away. I always knew it and then I suddenly just couldn’t get it to work. I would have these moments where I would freeze.”

His ranking fell. His sponsors withered. At 17, he felt finished.

“I stopped playing. It was too disappointing.”

Randy began traveling, trying to find himself outside of chess. He became a meditation student, a wonderer and often homeless. He came to Ashland 25 years ago, much of that time he camped outside and sought refuge in coffee shops.

But he never fully gave up on chess. “Ive been studying the game.”

Most people never knew his story. Briefly he was re-discovered but once again the game left him wounded.

He was offered a sponsorship to play a tournament in Grants Pass more than a decade ago. “I did great. I won second place. People gave me offers to play and teach.” But he couldn’t do it. “All the fear and apprehension came back. I literally had a horrible headache for three days. I couldn’t sleep.”

He figured it was too much. He gave up his dream again.

“I studied but hardly ever played. I wouldn’t play. I couldn’t do it.”

Randy says despite all the disappointment and pain he still had the hope that somehow, one day the game would come back to him.

“Then there was this brainstorm. Just set up my chess board and tell people I’ll teach for compensation.”

He sits on a bench most every day, all day, just within the sound of the park’s cellist with his board, hoping for a game.

“I’m enjoying it again. I love it, plus I’m actually making a little money.” He works by donation. He offers a game for a suggested five dollars and ten gets you a lesson from the master.

His years of patience shows. “Everything revolves around the four main squares in the middle,” he tells a student who stopped her stroll to play. “Every square means something. That’s the power of the game.”

Oakland resident Emily Santiago says in twenty minutes he improved her game. “He’s completely changed my strategy for playing. Chess is like life, I have to keep my most powerful pieces and leverage them, “ she says while staring intently at the board. “I learned to delay gratification.”

Randy’s life story could be told as one of delayed gratification. He’s waited decades for chess to pay him back for his devotion. “I wanted to support myself with chess. 45 years later and I’m finally doing it.”

Marcus Brown is nine. He’s visiting with his family from Arizona. The chess board is clearly calling to him as he circles Randy, looking at the pieces. Randy says he loves teaching children because he knows the power of the game. “I think it’s important to build skills, to plan and strategize,” says his mother Bobbie. Marcus is not talking, he is only sitting with the pieces and Randy. “Every game is now,” says Randy as he interrupts our discussion. “I have to concentrate.”

Twenty minutes later Marcus leaves the table. “That was great! Good job,” Randy encourages his student. Takes a sip of water and a breath. “I never knew how to give this gift to society. The only way to do it is to set up my board and wait. It requires me to be patient. You have to be patient in life and chess.”

He smiles. His green eyes shine under his gold wire rimmed glasses looking the part of the master. His fingers graze the pieces. He looks up and says to a couple passing by, “You want to play chess?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Worst Blog Ever

The little button at the top of this “blog” says write. It tempts me each time I see it. I always want to write. But sometimes it’s ill advised.

This is one of those times.

I am faithless in the present moment.

I’ve been spending the past 18 months embroiled in something we often call the system. In my case it means hanging around community government meetings, courtrooms, medical establishments and jails.

The flip side is that I’ve also been sitting on sidewalks and park benches, visiting food banks and community meals.

Let me tell you something–I’d spend my time with the so called down and out any day of the week as compared to the people tasked with running things.  To be honest, if not fair, it’s not the people who drain the life force out of everyone who gets near the system–it’s the thing itself. We’ve somehow built this overblown Frankenstein monster of a system that now devours all of us. No one seems to know how or when it was created and we sure don’t know how to stop it.

Some suggest bringing the whole thing down. But that looks like 23 million people without health care. That’s just one thing in a huge pile of disasters if we scrap our whole government and start over. Donald Trump is what burning it down looks like. No thanks.

Others say we keep going with little tweaks, a mid term election with more establishment Democrats and scrape the worst of the crazy off this barnacled bottomed sinking ship. Okay, well, that’s something.

I’m thinking of something more like Mr Smith Goes to Washington. It was an old black and white movie which shows a principled person fighting in congress until he wins.

At this point, that’s the only thing that makes sense. We’re in the throws of a government system which eats us all alive. It is non responsive from tiny city commissions all the way to the White House.

I’ve witnessed numerous hearings where elected officials did not listen to anything their constituents said and told them so. I’ve asked for comments from policy makers and they didn’t bother even answering. I’ve sat in courtrooms where judges told people to stop speaking up for themselves because they found it annoying. And I’ve seen people beaten because they asserted their rights.

This, from the country I grew up loving. I cried at the National Anthem, I stood in respect at the Pledge and I told anyone who would listen that the rule of law which governs a free society is paramount.

Now I think I was full of shit.

Just to be clear, this isn’t some rant from an unaffected yet disaffected person. This is my actual, real life. And it’s painful. I don’t care how safe you think you are, I’ve discovered you are not.

If you make one error in judgment in our current environment, you go under. Get sick, miss work, miss a check–that’s it. You’re out. Make a mistake, get on the wrong side of a judge–you’re over. Fail to pay some bills because you’re broke. You’re not approved for an apartment–anywhere.

Be a child who has parents who made any of those mistakes–you’re done before you start.

Is this really how we want to live? Do we want to keep tightening the screws on each other until the whole engine cracks?

This is what the bad kids, those despised young drifters, are talking about when you see them huddled under a tree with their backpacks scattered.

Many think they’re making drug deals or scoffing while giving a side eye to society. And sometimes they are. But, actually, most of the time they’re trying to figure out how to live in a world where it’s so absurd that an entire generation of people believe a young person enjoying avocado toast is to blame for the collapse of society.

Have we always been this stupid as a nation? Yes and no. Yes we have run over people in the name of “progress” from day one. Yes, money has always ruled. But no, we haven’t always failed our children, not cared about living wage jobs and celebrated greed like it’s religion. No we haven’t always fought wars without any justification. World War II was a necessary push back as abhorrent as war may be. But now we’re killing little kids from Syria and we’ve lost the plot entirely. I doubt most Americans care. Politicians, for sure, don’t care. We blow up their nation, the cradle of civilization, and then call them the enemy when they need a safe place for their children.

It’s racist but, hey, we treat our own American children with the same disregard. We cut school funding, food programs, child care, day care and any assistance they need. While we’re at it we’re throwing grandmother in the street by cutting her medicare and social security which doesn’t pay the rent anymore.

The world of children growing up today in this country and our local communities is destabilized.

How does that look in twenty years?

Meanwhile, we may suppose that’s happening in a government far away in Washington. Here, in our sweet towns, this does not happen.

But it does.

I’ve been told over and over that towns cannot afford to care for its most vulnerable. That services need to pencil out. Yet, many keep affording new public buildings, tourist attractions and amenities for the landed class.

If you don’t believe it start attending your local, community commission, school board and council meetings. Let me know how often the folks who spoke out influenced outcomes.

That’s not to say no one listens nor all communities are reckless. I don’t think that. But I do feel discouraged when I encourage people to participate and watch their dreams get tossed in the shredder or worse yet given just enough lip service to look like something is going to happen when it doesn’t.

So, what’s our answer? I don’t know. Keep showing up? Keep making noise? Keep voting no matter what? I think that’s about it. That and reporting back what happens when you show up. Eventually, as a friend recently told me, all the elitists jamming up the spokes and not listening are literally on the wrong side of history. They are going to be dead soon.

Kinda sad when your biggest hope is in the death of your own generation. But that’s true karma. When we die, the younger folks can finally drop us under a tree and get to work on doing what matters.

See, I told you writing was ill advised today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer Song; Ode to the Cruel and Lost

There may be nothing as hopeful as the villain finding his own good or the shadow waking to see his light.

Tonight as I lay broken in one way or another, punctuated by my own malady, I see there is no one I have the strength to hate so profoundly for whom I do not wish this–the seeing of his birthright of goodness.

I discover that I dream of all happy endings. I see them, the rapist, the full fisted and the petty standing under a night summer sky whispering, ‘Ah, yes. Finally I see. I am glad to have lived long enough.’

But why would this be so? Hope is the best thing going. Pulling for each of us to find our peace propels our current reality into future serenity.

Anger and hate. They are too taxing. Their toll is too high. They lurk in my body like thieves and murderers cutting away healthy tissue for poison and emptiness. I am rejecting them and instead dreaming of the wistful smile toward the end of the day. I am seeing him in his fields casting his eyes up the mountain, feeling glad for his wins and loses–even the one which saw me leave.

I am not saying I want all those who buried me in grief to be happy–I am thanking them for the experience and needing their gladness. We are born together and will die so as well. There is no connection ever made that can truly be broken.

Their joy is my own.

I realized this just tonight driving through my town on a quiet summer night. Beautiful as so many nights but unremarkable. Sitting at a red light with no particular thought it passed through me as the tears fell without warning–be happy, be peaceful, rest in awareness. I wanted this for me and then for them, those who I had perceived as the small galley of the harmful, because how else can goodness emerge except through them?

What is more powerful than the knowledge of the formerly unknowing? When the poet sings his love song it is expected. But when the pirate lays down his sword it is transformational.

I see now I have room for both and I aspire for both. Tonight I am the poet, yesterday the pirate. One who is not capable of casting a shadow has never been incarnate.

Do you see how we are tied together? We are like threads knit together in a blanket of love and loss, ignorance and wisdom, fear and love. It covers us all.

To those I have held dear and those who I have feared, you have made me and we are one. As I lay myself down hoping for the deepest of sleeps, I wish you very well.

May all beings be happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Things We Carry-the Gifts of the Homeless

She sat on the curb waiting for the food line to move forward. Sleeping outside the night before Elizabeth was famished and out of sorts. “I’m so damn hungry and sleeping out here last night was chaos,” she told me as she played with the rings on her fingers.

“I’m sick of this shit, for real.”

Then as we chatted about how her life lead her to homelessness a girl on a bike rode by flipping off a young man near us. “Fuck you!” she yelled as she pedaled by. We laughed. “There’s some drama out here.”

The man the girl yelled at laughed too.

Love, arguments, despair and laughter–it’s all out there on the streets just like it’s in there in the houses. It looks different because it’s open in front of everyone and because frankly, it is more dramatic. Go without sleep for a few nights and scrounge for your next meal and see if you don’t get dramatic. I know I would.

But once you settle into the hum and rhythm of life outside it begins to take on other values beyond the obvious. You begin to see the subtle- deeply held humor between people, the alliances that form of loyalty and protection, the willingness to share a last cigarette or an apple.

You see this other thing too–the art of the story. As a story teller myself I admire the way many homeless people tell their lives with vibrant description and then sometimes spare, bare bones agony. They will watch your reaction and respond either bringing more heat or laying low, moving in quietly or getting louder. It’s like a symphony of words. They get paid for their stories and they’re often in the lab sampling what works. As the great writer Norman Mailer famously said, “There’s no such thing as nonfiction.”

There is also time. Buckets and buckets of time just sitting and observing. You can learn a lot by watching, especially if you’re a disregarded outsider. It’s like being a servant in a household, invisible yet privy to all the secrets. Many homeless people know what their towns are really like under the fresh paint.

If you want to know something, ask the guy hanging out on the street–he usually knows the real directions, the diners who have the best, cheapest food and who is kind enough to offer water on a hot day.

Generosity exists in ways I can barely fathom. That woman I started the story with had three bracelets. She insisted I take one, a guy selling rings he created gave me one when I said I liked it and most homeless musicians, many of whom are very good because they have all day to practice and try out their material before a live audience will share their money with other homeless people. If they have a pet that buddy will have better clothes and food than they will, most of the time.

It’s been said you can never know a place until you’ve walked it. Think about the times our homeless residents have walked our towns and cities. They know it in a way I never could. They often love it in a way I couldn’t either. They know the streams and the trees, the plants and the critters by name. They often create from that place of knowing. Many are writing stories, sketching on the backs of tossed out paper, making art out of things people throw away and creating music–all day every day.

Imagine what they know.

The profound connection with nature is different even from the hikers, runners and campers on Earth. Many sleep under the stars each night and wake with the sun. They lay on the ground feeling the heartbeat of the planet. The grass is their carpet and the tree their chair. For music there are crickets and birds. They know the water the way we know a brother or sister. Nature is not something out there..but right there. The dirt under their nails and on their feet becomes part of who they are. They do not pull from the Earth, they ask it for what it has left over.

Just that difference can be all the difference.

So, what am I saying? Should we all be homeless? Am I denying its difficulty?

No.

But I would be living with a lie if I didn’t express the beauty I find among homeless people and the fact that I learn from at least one homeless person every day. I would also be lying if I didn’t tell you that the homeless friends I’ve had have brought me some of the best days I’ve had to date. When I was chasing my newest homeless acquaintance through the streets of San Francisco to meet his street crew I smiled so long and hard that day, my face hurt. I can think of few other times where I felt as free and welcomed and where the jokes were as funny.

We can learn and grow and allow everyone we meet to enrich us if we are willing. My advice: be willing.

That guy on the corner whom you’ve never looked at and hope he doesn’t ask you for money has a story and a life which is probably interesting. If you pulled out of your plan and gave him ten minutes–he’d change your life.

Hanging out with homeless people doesn’t have to be grim and sad and all about “solving the problem.” They get burned out on that as much as you do. Sometimes it’s about enjoying the moment and the company–just like that-just as you both are.

Because the things we carry are the same. His are just more heavy.

 

 

 

 

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The Case for Walking

Nowhere can you see the realness and the history of where you live better than by foot. You may drive a place every day but until your feet touch its soil, until your eyes stop looking straight ahead but off to the side where a wide set of steps rise like an upside down waterfall leading to a young man with an old school ‘fro texting his girl on the night before his college graduation- will you begin to know a place.

Until you notice just how many people plant rows and rows of lavender along the strip of land after their yard but before the street on the other side of the sidewalk- you won’t understand the generosity of your neighbors and the glory of bees on a summer day.

I passed the cemetery and for the first time realized that a leafy tree stands as a sentinel at the end of even rows of each line of headstones. The grass is exactly even but not mechanized like a modern place, it is still different shades of green from dark to light with some dried grass, yellow and stiff. The rows are more like paths inviting me to follow them and get to know the people who came before.

I found families, a husband who died twenty years before his wife. I kneeled before three headstones of three brothers who all died in different wars. Those people once also walked these streets.

Rounding through town I was stopped by a gaggle of young and lively guys with long dreadlocks and short little songs they busted out in bursts for me. “We’re the rainbow, join us!” I stayed awhile, talked about the Rainbow Gathering coming to Oregon, we talked about their dog and one guy told me I was beautiful. It was generous given that he was a lovely young guy with eyes as blue as any I’d seen.

Walking can boost your morale substantially.

I walked past bus stops and old homes. I saw some trash left by the steps of a stately old place which bragged of its 1888 lineage and I picked it up thinking, it  must be hard to see everything change around you.

I visited with a guy roughly my age carrying a backpack and sleeping bag. He looked clean and was sorting some food as he tucked it away. “It was a good day,” he said smiling. “I see that and I’m glad,” I tipped my head and smiled back. He was about to offer me some of his food but I walked on waving as I passed.

Strangers can be kind for no reason.

I also fell in love with an assorted group of dogs who ran to greet me like their long lost friend. Tails wagging, some singing sorrowful songs urging me to come back and I walked on and I remembered the joy of a good dog. I saw a woman cradling her little black and white dog coming from the vet and kissing the top of her furry head.

Love is so present in the world if you look.

I exchanged dozens of smiles with strangers, witnessed countless acts of awe among children seeing birds and flowers and I never once wished I was in a car despite the sweat which pooled at the back of my neck.

The best moment was in passing a girl, maybe seven or eight, wearing a crisp blue and white dress, a ribbon in her dark wavy hair and the smile on her innocent illuminated face that made years roll backwards to my second grade year. She stood at the top of the stairs outside her home while her grandmother sat smiling that same way on her porch. The girl began waving at strangers and smiling, for no particular reason. She ate an orange popsicle. As I approached the popsicle slipped off its stick into the grass. She observed but didn’t react choosing to continue her waving campaign.

Everything about her gave me hope. I asked if I could capture her picture and I did. I did not ask her a million questions like I might normally do. Frankly I didn’t want to know more than what I could see–the perfect mixture of light and love, innocence and care, playfulness and childish boredom.

If you walk enough you will get bored. Boredom is such a relief. Boredom doesn’t have technology attached or success or failure. It is expansive and allows you to fill it or feel it just as it is. I love boredom.

The case for walking is great. It is good for every part of you except your oh so busy schedule. So here’s the best case for it beyond all others–walk because you do not have time to do it. Break free of your calendar and make the room for walking and seeing and loving and speaking to strangers, and flirting and being bored.

 

 

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