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What is there to say? I'm not very interesting. I'm not a good writer. I don't even dress well. If you insist on knowing something about me just wander through the archives. It's all there.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

On meandering

When I was I kid, I used to go meandering. I think it was my mom who first called it that. I would ride my bike or walk for hours at a time. I never had a destination in mind. I never really placed a time limit on the journey outside of the fear of parental wrath that limited me to the daylight hours. I would explore. I walked down streets I had never been on before. I rode my bike down mysterious unexplored alleyways, across lots, and into streambeds. I looked at everything that came into my field of vision. I didn’t just see things. I studied them. Any interesting leaf, piece of shiny foil, rock, rusty signpost, dead bird, trashcan, crooked tree branch, insect, or crack in the sidewalk might demand several minutes of intense scrutiny.

I am not sure why I enjoyed this activity so much. I am convinced, however, that these experiences were important to my young psyche. I enjoyed playing with my friends. I had a great family. I was active in school and church. But my solo journeys were as important to my growth as the meals my mother cooked. I think my extended trips sometimes made my parents a little nervous. They would ask me where I had been all day. I would always say, “jus’ lookin’ around”. They would nod absently at my stock answer and remind me to make sure I got, “home before dark.” Of course, the world was certainly a much safer place for an eleven-year-old kid then. I must have been born with a good sense of direction, since I never got lost. I also had a well-honed instinct for self-preservation that made certain that I always made it home before my parent’s curfew came into play.

I think it is in Australia where people go on “walkabouts”. I am not sure if my childhood travels were similar in nature. My sojourns certainly did not have any religious aspects or cultural requisites. I just wanted to know what was past the end of the next street. I wanted to do it by myself. I wanted it to be a part of my memories alone.

It has been a long time since I found the time to wander. Now, I do walk just about everyday, not because I want to, but because the doctor says I ought to. Life is way too busy, so I have a strict time limit on how long I can walk. I walk with a vigorous stride and follow the path of least resistance, usually a sidewalk or a bike path. I put headphones over my ears and look straight ahead as though I am chasing some goal that is always receding into the distance. Anymore, I don’t take any journey on foot or by car that doesn’t have a fairly firm destination at the end of it. Time is always so limited. There is always something of importance that needs to be done. I haven’t wandered aimlessly (on purpose) since I was a child.

Today is a truly rare and wonderful event. The kids don’t have to be taken anywhere. No games. No practices. Nothing. They are going to spend the day with friends. I have no projects on my plate that are teetering on the edge of the abyss. Nothing of importance requires my immediate attention. My wife hasn’t given me any chores that need doing. She has no plans and just wants to take it easy and catch up on some reading.

So, in honor of my long-lost childhood, I am going to meander. I’m going to start walking with no destination in mind. I’m not just going to see things. I am going to study them. I am going to give each interesting new discovery several minutes of intense scrutiny. I am going to go find out what is past the end of the next street. I am going to do it by myself. It will be part of my memories alone.

In honor of my parents, I will be home before it gets dark.

2 Comments:

Blogger the benwahs said...

So, did you do it? Did you meander? Thanks for taking me back too. That was...nice. There are better words I suppose, but I think "nice" does it justice; a little naieve, childish, appropriate.

Thanks.

29/10/05 1:43 PM  
Blogger Vest said...

The tribal Australian Aborigines are said to have gone 'walk-about', when one or more decide to move on and away from their tribal environs.

15/11/05 8:13 AM  

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