Friday, April 15, 2011

I Am Not a Wheel

[Several people have asked about this post, so a bit of explanation is in order. This is my entry for a creative writing contest, celebrating Earth Day. I took second place (apparently, I'm better at writing than racing..) and won a gift certificate of some sort. Anyway, enjoy this creative essay! - Scott]

A strip of sunlight entered the room and danced lightly on my well-worn shoes by the door. Today I would run, rather than ride. Shoes in place, I stepped out into the brightness.

My thoughts sang softly to the even tempo of my feet against the pavement.  I flew through neighborhoods and down city streets, instinctively pulled towards the trail passage in the nearby forest.

“Yield” commanded the sign. “Never” I replied.

“Recycle” ordered the bin. “With every step” I breathed.

“Caution” flashed the light. “Another day perhaps” I conceded.

The cracked concrete of neglected sidewalks made war with my pounding feet. Salvo after salvo was exchanged in my relentless pursuit of the forest.  Muscles ached. Knees creaked. Feet stung. Still, I pounded on.

“If only my legs were wheels,” I thought. Rolling down the hard city streets promised a gentler journey than the pounding of foot against stone. But then I thought of the forest that had been here before the hardscrabble streets. Is that why we pave over the earth? The wheel seems to have become our master rather than our slave.

Cars passed closely, leaving me to struggle through their sickly sweet breeze. Busses growled past, belching acrid, black smoke. But the trees were calling. I would not be denied.

Entering the coolness of the forest, I was happy to leave the chaos of the city. As the trees closed in behind me, the noise of the city faded, leaving only the sounds of wind and footsteps. My stride softened as I flew down the trail. My feet no longer raged against the earth. The pounding battle had ended, replaced with a peaceful flow of foot, root, rock, and trail.

The trail wound deeper and downwards into the forest. My spirits lifted with each step. The run became dance – quick, intricate steps among roots and stones - gentle pirouettes around towering trees.
As the trail neared a cascading stream, the two intertwined in their own eternal dance – twirling with bridges and stepping stones.  I spun among them, dancing as partner to both the trail and the stream. My feet flowed with the stream as I danced, ever downwards.

I chased the mysteries of the trail. What lay around the next bend? What was beyond the next shimmering shaft of sunlight? Gliding through the dappled light of the forest, my worries melted away.

I forgot about the city. I let go of everything and flowed with the stream. My worries would be waiting for me at the end of the trail. For now, I only wanted to run - to absorb the moist, mossy smell of the stream - to tread sparkling clouds of trail dust into the shafts of sunlight – to dance softly among the ancient trees.

“Here is true happiness,” I thought. The quick, light movement of feet upon the earth is far better than the spin of wheels against concrete.

For I am not a wheel - I am water.