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Carless -Day Thirty -Connected

We’d been living in this small town surrounded by the megalopolis for three years when the disappearing car forced us onto the sidewalks. This first felt like an imposition, as if we’d lost something important, but we’re adapting. I hadn’t suspected how disconnecting that car had become. I could disappear into it and reappear somewhere else, do my business there, then disappear into it again. Now, we have to walk a block or two before disappearing into any vehicle, and we often just choose to walk all the way rather than use any available worm hole.

Amy and I made two round trips to the commercial center of this place today after I’d earlier walked over and back. Didn’t take long, ten minutes or so each way. We’ve learned the rhythm of the three way stop light in front of the fire station and which side is the shadier depending upon the time of day. We meet people along the way, maybe even ourselves.

I shouldn’t be so surprised that I’ve never felt more connected to this place. I’ve watched the city crews repaving sidewalks along our street from the perspective of my two feet, not peeking through burglar-barred curtains or a darkly-tinted windshield; saying ,“Hey!” to the dusty workmen, receiving their nods of acknowledgement in return.

In so-called ‘isolated’ rural American, farmers acknowledge each other when their pick-ups pass, even if only by raising a finger or two off the steering wheel. Here, too, it’s a long-standing local custom to acknowledge another when you encounter them on the sidewalk. Most of us transplants don’t seem to understand and avert our eyes, suddenly too busy to notice someone passing by.

Humberto Maturana claims that love is acknowledgement and acceptance, embodied in simple recognition of another’s presence here. Between the garage door and the car door, between the parking space and the supermarket entrance, I’d so narrowed the possibility for recognition that I became a stranger. Sidewalks know no unwitting strangers, only the deliberate sort. Once out of the orderly, hustling traffic flow, up on the high ground on the sidewalk, it seems almost impossible to not feel connected to somebody, maybe even myself.

©2012 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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