When weather permits on work days I take a walk at lunchtime. It is always a peculiar mental transition. I walk down the many-door hall and out the sally-port to a parking lot perched on the brow of a hill. If I went left it would be down hill to civilization. But I turn right, where pavement becomes the gravel of a seasonal road dismissively called a “dead end” by a sign at the bottom of the hill. But it’s not a dead end. It goes somewhere, and connects to other roads, if you are willing to risk the dangers of deep pot-holes. Life is like that.
The transition from the locked up walls of modern life to a dirt track through the woods is a mental jolt, in a pleasant but almost disorienting sort of way. How can these two things be so close together? The breath can go out, the shoulders relax, and my mind turns to more pleasant and thoughtful things.
This week Monday was a day with weather at the pinnacle of Autumn’s best. The sun shone warm, and the world waited with a quiet congeniality. As I walked up the gravel path, my mind wandered.
How often do I stop and consider what is being whispered in my mind’s ear? Hurry, hurry. All so much hurry. So rarely do I stop to feel the sunshine, to see the leaves blow and the color move.
How often do I stop the hurry to take a slow walk? Stop to feel the rock and dirt beneath my feet, and hear the crow call in the tree? The world move in the rustle of small creatures in the brush. The leaves pile on the side of the road, a multitude of yellow, red, and brown. They wait for no one, and everyone.
Today I saw the Amish loggers in the woods. There is a strange tension in their person. Each worker had a pair of horses hooked to a two wheeled metal hauling cart. The carts are so rudimentary the wheels are bare metal, no tires. They are dressed in their basic Amish garb, and each man touts around a roaring chainsaw. Seeing the combination leads to pondering.
The tension in the Amish attempt to straddle the world divide in their chainsaw and horses is interesting as a metaphor for how I look for some balance in life. There are some things in modern technology which are exceedingly useful, and improve life greatly. There are other things where I think wisdom might be (in the metaphor) to opt out of the hurry of motor vehicles for a slower life of riding a horse. So what is the equivalent of a motor vehicle and a horse in this metaphor? I am not entirely sure what it means for me, but I am convinced it is worth thinking about.
As I walked along I could hear one of the Amish men singing to his horse.
“Aaaah–iiieeeee–ooooouuu” The long call was tonal a chant, like a singer in the great cathedral of the words. Then the spell alters as the man descends into cheerful whistling. Then he picks up the singing again. “Lllaaa–eeeee—iiooo.” The call echoed through the trees like a voice from ancient times. It made me think about life lived away from the hurry of modern sensibility.
Afterward, I finished my walk through the trees and returned to the glowing screen of my computer. The Amish are out there, and I am in here hurrying at my computer. Maybe some day I will learn better what it means to not hurry.