Saturday, March 17, 2012

Unintentional Companions

Perhaps the truth depends on a walk.....
   ~Wallace Stevens

I lost my heart for many things when Mama died in October, chief among them my joy in  walking. I suppose a counselor would have a field day with that: the last time I heard her voice was when I called her to tell her that I had just finished my second half-marathon. 

Reasons turned into excuses, as they often do though, and the hard work I had begun in 2003 to get my health and my girth under control began to slip away.  I made a couple false re-starts with manufactured enthusiasm, and even now I can't say I've got my groove back.

But I am getting back to the park now at least a few times a week. I'm walking these days with no purpose (save getting back in some of my summer clothes) -- no thought of how fast or how far, just walking until I decide I don't want to walk any longer, listening to whatever music finds its way from my iPhone to my ears.

The picture up there was taken from the parking lot of Vaughn Road Park, just before a good, long walk this past Wednesday afternoon. That church is where I had cast my vote the day before, the one whose outcome left me incredulous, and more than a bit dismayed. (My disclaimer: I am a moderate conservative, which basically means I have nowhere to go most of the time, politically speaking.)

But this isn't a post about politics. This is a post about community.

The park was full of folks that day, and I enjoyed watching families out enjoying a beautiful late afternoon, and passing elderly couples strolling on the path (the only people I CAN outpace anymore!).  

As I was nearing the end of an hour, my legs were growing tired, and as I approached the final rise on the track I began to match pace and walk side-by-side with a young African-American man, dread-locked,wearing those godawful low slung pants, having a conversation into seeming air via a Bluetooth device).  I could not get past him - he was at a stroll, but his stride was long and these short legs just didn't have the gas left in them to speed up.  

It's odd how uncomfortable I feel walking side-by-side like this with someone I don't know, but I think it's probably a universal feeling. I have no doubt that as strange as I felt, he must have felt the same, and yet neither of us could or would do anything to escape the situation. And so we walked, side by side.  He finished his conversation, and we continued to walk -- together -- and after several minutes he began to break off to step into the park itself and he said, "I enjoyed the walk. You take care, and be blessed."

There are lots of things that do and will forever separate that young man and me, but for that parcel of time we were unintentional companions,  walking together.

It's what we need to remember when we are divided by political issues, and race, and religion, and education, and socioeconomic class: we only have here. We only have now. Whether we like it or not, we are walking this time together. 

Enjoy the walk. Take care. Be blessed.


  1. Eleanor, your ability to transfer thoughts into written words never ceases to amaze me! While I was more disappointed than surprised at our recent election results, I agree we're all in this together, and we must learn to share our brief time here together with mutual respect.

  2. This is why I need you in my life: to remind me to slow down and Pay Attention. I envy your ability to do and express it so beautifully.

  3. This just totally spoke to me. Love it!

  4. so very well said.

    ~Mad(elyn) in Alabama