I saw a group of boys walking down the street in the SouthRidge neighborhood a few days ago, in the town I grew up in.
They were laughing and walking slowly, down a single strip of road that seems to go on forever — taking their time. I can’t remember the last time I took my time with anything (well, at least not until recently, since being back home.) It reminded me of all the walks I’ve taken in my life; in my youth. The ones in my old neighborhood, consisting of a mile long circle. I’ve walked that circle a hundred times. With my friends in middle school, talking about the future. With the home-schooled neighborhood kids talking about their mom who was a “witch” but, “a good one.” That time my brother chased Jamie Heape with a bat off of the bus… that kid sucked.
I went on multiple walks with boys. These moments, I remember, were one of the few times they really impressed me. When I got to listen to their dreams, and one in particular would tell me about the stars — but not in a cheesy, romantic way. He knew about them. How they worked. What they were made of. I got to know his mind on those walks, and his fears, and what made him excited about being here. I got to know his past, and the stories in his life that made him who he was, who he is.
One of the most powerful poems I’ve ever read is by Shel Silverstein.
I went to find the pot of gold
That’s waiting where the rainbow ends.
I searched and searched and searched and searched
And searched and searched, and then–
There it was, deep in the grass,
Under an old and twisty bough.
It’s mine, it’s mine, it’s mine at last…
What do I search for now?
Sometimes, I wish we could desensitize ourselves. As children, we take long walks, and we anticipate these dreams we have and the goals we have on our mental check-list. One by one, we start to mark them off. First kiss, First relationship, First job. We win, eventually. When we’re children, that first kiss seems forever away, though. It feels like its never going to happen. And then one day, in the “right place” and the “right time”, it does. And for 5 seconds, we bask in the unfounded glory of a new experience, of a dream achieved. And then it leaves us…like a leaf blowing away in the wind. Its gone. Un-catch-able.Out of sight and out of mind. So, like Silverstein so plainly puts, we search for something new. Something better than before. Something that will most definitely, without a doubt, make us feel more alive than the first obstacle we conquer.
And I think about that teenage girl, walking slowly down a dimly lit road with her best friend, just wondering what it would feel like to hold somebody’s hand.
And it seems like if we could just find those moments in our mind…the walks that we’ve taken in our lives, that make us who we are, and stamp our hearts — we could keep that magic alive. Instead of searching for a new high, we could cultivate our relationships. Making things stronger with the people we took those walks with, re-hashing and renewing those old dreams.
Asking somebody one more time,
“Walk with Me?”