(approximately a 2-minute read.)
A walk in the morning of Inauguration Day, before festivities, still during a Pandemic.
There is a certain gait one can choose while on a walk,
that is not too hurried, not too measured.
Not advancing to the toes, not too much on the heels,
not lurching towards or backing away,
in that prime and receptive bit of real estate between forward and back,
future and past.
I read yesterday, in The Atlantic, that the coronavirus is mutating.
The virus they mapped out a year ago is now a relic—
that is how they described it. A relic.
One year seems like a short amount of time for something to become a relic,
does it not?
Yet, in using the past year as an example,
the world has shown us that, when placed in the wrong hands,
it can mutate into something almost unrecognizable in comparison to
what it used to be.
A soggy, near-disintegrated leaf has
attached to my shoe,
causing me to slip and pause to peel it off after carrying it a good 30 yards first.
Why this leads me to ponder the difference between mutation and evolution, I don’t know.
But it does.
Is evolution possible without pushing off from the ropey shoulders of mutation?
Doesn’t growth first require a clear picture of what not to be?
(How different will I be when I return to my home and my family from this walk?
Evolved and/or mutated? Mutated and/or evolved?)
The Tree Chapel is an entirely different scene during the winter. What was a green wall of flora, lush overlapping branches of cottonwood, shrubberies and grasses against a rippling creek
is now an entwined web of bare spindles, hairless wooden bodies this way and that with gaps to reveal the truth of the matter—we are in a neighborhood, not the woods. There is no longer the feeling of autonomy in nature; I can see through the skeletal mess into a complete stranger’s kitchen.
Seeing my beloved chapel like this is almost like seeing something beautiful with x-ray vision, like seeing a loved one too close.
The dry brown grasses like a brittle comb-over of hair. The litter that lines the now dried-up creek like a child’s emptied bathtub.
I’m not out here for exercise; I’m here as a practice to trade air with that gnarly branch that doesn’t remotely match the wide, majestic trunk it grew from.
I don’t even want sunglasses today—anything that impedes the senses feels like an insult. No earbuds to force-feed my audio landscape, which allows for long stretches of organic soundlessness like dead air on the radio,
there is the sudden cough of a stranger, a train in the distance, a dog barking and it all fits together like harmony.
And next, a flock of wild geese pummel overhead, louder than a jumbo jet. Their V-formation is more a sideways 7, evident that a handful of the birds abandoned the mission.
I think of Trump leaving the White House this morn, all pomp and shallow-rage, denying his missing wing even as he spirals to the ground like half a maple copter.
I think of, how, during a meditation retreat years ago, they would gently ding a bell at random times to remind us to come back to the moment that is directly in front of you.
The geese are a Drunk Uncle version of that bell, busting through the door, oblivious of surroundings, work boots leaving clumpy mud-prints, as they bellow LOOK UP, GODDAMIT!!
And as I do,
wee flecks of snow hit my cheeks
like tiny punctuation from a poem that continues on,
whether or not I notice.