I’m skating in Birch Park, and I find the road populated with thousands of baby lizards. They complicate my speed, compromised two days ago when I found the road covered with smooth little caterpillars (or are they centipedes?) that appear to be black but on closer inspection are an iridescent dark green. These seem to be making a pointless pilgrimage from one patch of jungle to the other. The baby lizards do not seem to be eating them. They seem to be simply interested in youthful exploration. I dodge both groups with focus and effort that change my routine from pleasure to work. Where are the careless parents of these critters? What lunar coalition prompted this simultaneous reproduction? A large dragonfly swoops down in front of me and matches my speed like a traffic helicopter. I pass three lazy raccoons on their way to a dumpster. They look up at me long enough to realize that I am not a source of food. A shadow on the road lets me know that a hawk is circling overhead. He’s looking for small rodents. We are of no interest to him. Three pelicans glide by like tour buses on their way to the ocean.
Agendae. Purpose. Exultation. Youth. Destiny. Heat. Drive. We are all going some place. We don’t know why. We just do it. We move.
On that road are the squelched remnants of baby lizards and centipedes that met a fast death under the tires of cars or bikes or other skaters. I wonder if they saw the shadow of their demise just a second before it arrived. What did they feel? Deprivation? Chagrin? Regret? Probably nothing. What kind of god governs all of this? Wound up the clock at the beginning of time and said “This is how it will be. Some will die young. A percentage.” A car behind me softly toots its horn and I move to the right and motion it to pass. I am spared death as I have been for so many years. Sometimes medicine or surgery has saved me. Sometimes my own cautiousness. Like when I never went to the Mineshaft when my friends who are no longer with me did. I am still here, examining my face for wrinkles, and wondering how best to play this hand of frayed edges.
So much to live for. Should I make a list? Should I run out into the traffic with my eyes closed just for once? Just to prove to myself that I should be here? That it’s not my own design but my natural place in time and space? Tonight C will call me and tell me how his day went. He will remind me that my flight home is eight days away. I will pin myself to that thought. Bind myself to that moment. That is why I cross the road. Why I do not die.
We use humor to shield ourselves from the darker clouds. A blogger I have never met had an Auden verse on his/her blog. I recite it aloud while skating. I pass a woman with her little dog. She assumes I am talking into an earpiece that talks to a cell phone. I’m delighted to be given techno license to talk to myself.
As the poets have mournfully sung,
Death takes the innocent young,
The rolling in money,
The screamingly funny,
And those who are very well hung.