I’ve Been Thinking
By John R. Greenwood
I’ve been thinking about a lot of different things these days but I can’t seem to muster up the energy to put them down on paper. I feel like I’m stuck in a roundabout and I can’t decide which exit to take. My mind goes from responsibilities at work, to worrying about the lawn that needs mowing. While I stand there contemplating cleaning the garage, my kitchen sink is leaning against the wall waiting for me to install the new base cabinets. The mail comes with a bill for upcoming dental work—the price tag higher than the cabinets and the countertop combined. Do we get the roof replaced or the house painted? Why does every person that walks by me ask if I’m retired yet? WTF did the president just say? Has anyone ever really been fined for littering?
I lace up my running shoes, grab my headphones and head for the back door. A 1.5 mile walk around my block, or “The Loop” as I call it will clear my head. Do I listen to Warren Haynes or The Piano Guys, Joe Bonamassa or Ludovico Einaudi, The Allman Brothers or Pokey Lafarge? There’s that spinning and ringing again.
Two hundred feet down the road I pick my head up to look at the mist rising from the hayfield next to me. It’s a calming pastoral view. My heart rate takes a dive. My breathing slows. A car with a late-for-work-driver holding a cell phone to her ear and the radio blasting skims by me so close the hood on my sweatshirt blows off. I yell something profane in sign language.
1/4 mile later a small bundle of brown hops from a roadside hedge, stops, and looks me square in the eye, and in her most convincing rabbit voice says, “Chill mister, life is good. It’s going to be a beautiful day. Live it like you stole it.” I pause there thinking about those Saturday mornings my father would wake me up to go chasing those philosophical rabbit types around the woods with my 16 gauge Ithaca shotgun. I cherish and smile at the memory, not because I loved shooting at rabbits, but because I never did. I was too engaged in the surroundings to give a damn about pulling the trigger and disturbing Mother Nature. In my heart I don’t think my father cared one way or another either. I hear his voice.
Smile, breathe and walk slower…
I round the corner on to Route #9 and I hear a smorgasbord of bird noises over Warren Haynes playing “Soulshine”. I pop out an earbud. It’s a Mockingbird performing her latest version of, “I’m a cricket, seagull, bullfrog, hear me sing.” I’m mesmerized by her talent and her extroverted display of joy. I stand there staring at the top of a telephone pole like a child soaking in fireworks for the first time.
Smile wider, walk faster, and feel free…
I reach the halfway mark of my “Loop”. I buy a coffee in a place that ultimately puts a roof over my head. I sit at the picnic table out front and wait for someone to say good morning to. People come and go. I witness their promenade in and out of the convenience store door. Life keeps moving, oblivious to my thoughts on the sad state of society. My positivity struggles for survival these days. These morning walks keep me hanging by a thread. The sun peeks between the tree branches and gas prices on the sign above me. It was five cents cheaper two days ago.
Go home now. Take a hot shower…
I start thinking again. My pace is brisker. I notice my gate has opened up. My chest is puffed. My back is straight. I’m hitting my stride. Life’s abundance flashes by on either side. Another rabbit salutes as I pass. A bluebird lands on a fence post, beak pointed sharply upward, she’s taking a break—the family’s been fed.
I see my house…
For one brief moment it’s 1981 again. The house is the same, but now there are flowers everywhere. Thirty-seven years flash by. I hear my sons playing in the yard. But they're not really there. They’re home in their own yards, mowing their own grass, making their own memories.
I stop thinking.