Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Here and Now

It was too beautiful a morning not to go to the river.

But instead of my usual river route, I walked down to Brown's Island and then went west, passing the rafting company's busy table where people were strapping on life jackets and renting fun for the afternoon.

I decided to go home via the new Second Street connector, a particularly steep choice, but one I'd only driven, not walked.

Recalling that a stranger who worked at Tredegar had once told me how much she loved using that road to get to work because it afforded such a fantastic view of the river, I stopped mid-way up the hill, turned around and had to admit she was right.

There it was, all laid out below, blue and sparkling in the late morning light.

Walking along the tree-shaded sidewalk on Second Street near Ethyl Corporation, I found myself in a meditation about mindfulness after a guy biked by me, coffee cup in hand, ear buds in place.

Because clearly just biking down to the river on  splendid morning isn't enough of a thing to do, he was multi-tasking as he pedaled.

I found that incredibly depressing. It's like when I see parents outside with young children and they're yapping on their phones or texting instead of actively engaging with these little humans they're supposed to be raising, inspiring, interacting with.

On Cary Street, I saw a woman walking her dog, so busy texting she didn't notice that the dog had stopped to do his business and she was now choking him as she continued to walk, oblivious to the very reason she was outside.

Remember when dog walking was enough? When you just sort of meandered wherever your canine pal wanted to go instead of being so busy on the phone that the dog was forgotten?

Yea, I'm afraid a lot of people don't know what I'm talking about, either.

Coming up the shady side of First Street, I crossed Main Street and heard an amplified voice. Looking over toward Library Park, I saw an assembled group listening to a speaker.

I bit. I was more than happy to stop my walk and do some listening for a while.Walking over to the park, I saw the park was unexpectedly gussied up with white tablecloths on the metal tables and people situated on every bench and chair.

On a small stage up against the library was a guy reading poetry from a book, so I stopped and propped up my arms on the metal fence to listen to his poem about being a kid having an adventure out in the snow and another about Monument Avenue.

The reader talked about his grandfather, Joseph Awad, who was Poet Laureate of Virginia and shared some memories of his grandfather.

Then he read his grandfather's poem, "Variation on a Theme," commenting afterwards about how immensely talented he'd been and how much he'd admired him.

Imagine happening on to an outdoor poetry reading coming back from a restorative saunter along the river. And to think I might have missed it if I'd been engrossed in a phone, which, conveniently, I don't have.

Living in the present is quickly becoming a thing of the past, if it's not already.

Seeing as how I've only got this one life, think I'll keep traveling to the beat of a different drum. The '70s got some things right. Be here now, be now here.

It's not as hard as you think and so much more pleasurable than you know.

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