A person doesn't learn much driving around in a car, compared to what you can pick up on foot, and that's a sad fact about the way most of us live. Your car, comfortable though it might be, this little den and dinning room on wheels, is a prison that deadens your senses, and to feel wholly alive you must go for a walk.
I have only discovered this after years of riding buses to work and walking the city streets. It was a discovery that almost went unnoticed until Good Friday when I decided to drive myself downtown. There was no traffic. I thought I might leave work early, and opted to have my get away car near by. It was fun at first. With my windows rolled up tight I could listen to the music LOUD without bothering strangers. I was quite content. But I was missing out on spring, the smell of soil, the exhilaration of walking, the whole show.
If you're used to being wrapped in two tons of steel, you feel naked without it. Anybody could walk up and poke you, anybody at all. You wait to be poked. This weekend I worked in a community garden which is not far removed from our local museum district. In our wonderful city of no zoning laws we tend to our crops amongst an odd mix of rundown tenements and first class yuppie condos. A jazz musician and social worker stop by to help out and an old lady stops to ask for food. Its exhilarating to be out in a crowd on a spring day. We are not alone. The world is larger and more interesting than we imagine.
There are times when I wish the homeless would just stop asking for bus fare. Just fess up to why you really want the money. This morning I wanted to rip a hands free cellphone thingy out of one businessman's hands. What is the point of using that wire thing if you are just going to hold the phone in one hand and the wire in the other? Congratulations, you are using two hands to operate a one hand device while sharing your personal life with 40 of your newest, closest friends. And sure, no one wants to listen to the techno crap that teenage punk is blasting on her ipod, but I was once a teenage punk myself.
For all we think we know, we don't come close to comprehending this complex world. When you walk in the open, exposed to the beauty and grandeur, our common morality and our common failures, no words can quite suffice. Its just a good life in a messed up, crazy ass world.