There is a place where the sidewalk ends
and before the street begins,
and there the grass grows soft and white,
and there the sun burns crimson bright,
and there the moon-bird rests from his flight
to cool in the peppermint wind.
Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
and the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
we shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow
and watch where the chalk-white arrows go
to the place where the sidewalk ends.
Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
and we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
for the children, they mark, and the children, they know,
the place where the sidewalk ends.
Into controlled chaos is where the sidewalk ends. Today, our walk has taken us to a place where manicured lawns cease and weeds creep, the ladders for dewey kisses on my shins with remnants of seeds plastered for keeps, the vehicle for Mother Nature’s frolick.
DEVO starts pulling, the leash tightening, the soft earth in the open field that runs alongside the bayou is his cue. Soon enough my strides lengthen, our pace picks up. At first, I think I can hang. A perfect sprinter’s form, reminiscent of my youth, erupts. I know it’ll be short-lived as the speed increases, control lessens. I debate stopping him, but I don’t, because at this point, I can’t. He knows it’s his time. For months now we’ve been working on our ‘walking manners’. I haven’t been running with him since the tripping debacle in the middle of a busy road while trying to cross. The passing traffic startling him, launching me over and up as he darted in front of me. My hands and right elbow skidding first with my right hip taking the major force of what in my eyes must have been quite a rubber-necking-spectacle-crash. Dazed, in the middle of the road, I managed to pick myself up. DEVO, sensing my pain, with head lowered, conceded to the slow walk home.
Now we walk, and work on ‘heeling’ and not pulling. I feel bad for DEVO. This isn’t his nature, he was born to run. So every walk I take him to the end of the sidewalk, where concrete meets earth. We both need it. To revel in our purest forms, in a state of chaos, the extraordinary feeling of our world unfurling, pressing down the edges, even if only temporary. A reminder to siphon each day and each experience, and to savor every moment before the edges roll back.
We share this remarkable delight in the fascinating, playful and chaotic. Channeling my inner-child, somewhat cultivated and tethered these days, but without the fear I once had of losing control, essentially, failing.
Yeah, I pay for this freedom with bits of insecurity by not having a guaranteed income, and no structured form of an organized employer that govern most jobs. I have to plan for myself. This lifestyle forces me to work hard, in ways I never expected and to have faith and confidence in my ability. And in return the fruits of my labor: a playground laid out before me, a boundless span of freedom, bits of chaos and, most importantly, choice. Being fully aware and knowing this life is a gift. It’s fleeting, and like my dose of today’s chaos, a daily reminder telling me that we all need to wake up and let go of the need to control.
Ok, now. No, literally. I need to wake up, snap out of it. The leash pulls taut, I’ve truly lost control, I’m being dragged and I’m about to go down. The voices start to scream, let go of the leash. Let. Go. Of. The. Leash.
Hell no. that’s the easy way out. I won’t do it.
I manage to generate a tug and for a nanosecond I pull him off pace as I regain composure and control. And then it starts again. The leash pulling tight, DEVO in his full sprinting stallion mode, and another split second later I’m forced to tug it. This pattern repeats, losing control, pulling him off pace, regaining control. One misstep, one roll of an ankle, a simple divet, a hidden undulation, a deadly ant hill land mine and it’s over. Just like that, very simple, very quickly. It’s bound to happen. I’m tempting fate. Perhaps this is what drives me, this challenge, I’m not sure, but I always manage to figure it out. Another spectacle it would be, the momentum, my flailing arms lifting me, hurling me forward, hands grasping the empty air, then crashing down…maybe a roll or two. “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat…” The film reel plays slo-mo in my head. Yes, this is Vinko Bogataj crash-worthy. I’m not afraid.
And at the end of the field where the postage stamp lawns and composed streets start again, an audience will be watching. Just like in the middle of that busy road. But this time, I’ve steered the chaos towards the cushion of the grassy earth. And when the forward momentum of the crash stops, I’ll lie there, cracking a smile, tasting the “peppermint wind”, knowing it was all worth it.