A widow I don’t know personally, Alicia, but whose blog I follow wrote a piece today on the need people have to keep their heads down after a tragedy and simply put one foot in front of another for a while. I can’t say that I have ever felt that way myself. When they told me that Will was going to die and that the process could take years, I fixed my eye on the far horizon and seldom let it out of my sight because I wouldn’t have made it otherwise. If I had ducked my head and concentrated on my immediate circumstances only – watching my husband die – I wouldn’t have had the strength to do what needed to be done day after day or to plan for those events I knew where coming and had no one but me to do them. It wasn’t enough to know there was a horizon – a future. I needed to think about it and dream about it. Alicia’s sidewalk imagery reminded me of a poetry book that my sixth-graders of long ago loved so much
Where the Sidewalk Ends
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.
But that’s not me. Measured and slow. It’s never been me. I am more like the line Yoda uses in his argument with Ben Kenobi about whether or not Luke should be formally trained as a Jedi.
This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph.
That’s me. Although I am more grounded in my present that I have been at any time of my life, I am still thinking about tomorrow, whether it’s next week or months or years from now. And I don’t see it as a bad thing or a running away thing. It’s just me. One of the many quirks that make me up and set me apart. Not far apart though. I am not the only one who looks forward to her future with anticipation, wondering how much of it I can actively shape and how much I will just have to accept (and if I can manage to muster up the grace to do so).
It’s not that I don’t feel there is a place for sidewalks or just breathing in and out. Sometimes it’s better to take the beaten path (or the poured one), but your toes will always be on the end of your feet. The horizon changes, especially when you aren’t watching it.