It’s early on a Saturday morning, and I’m out at the River Walk. After some warm months, autumn has finally arrived, and it couldn’t be more welcome. As I head down the ramp for the walk, proper, the University is behind me to my left, and the River Club and the old mills are behind and to my right. Two young women jog by (college students) looking both healthy and determined.
I decide to walk south, the longer walk from where I’m starting. As recently as five or six years ago, I would have brought rollerblades out here; nowadays, though, I just walk. I gave up skating. I think I got tired of falling.
Come to think of it, I know a few people who have given up dating by employing the same principle.
I’m always “coming to think of it” – whatever “it” might happen to be. My whole day is a series of come-to-think-of-its.
I walk a ways past a little amphitheater. My wife performed her first marriage ceremony there. The couple from that wedding are one of the few couples she ever married who are still together. That got depressing for her after a while, so, she’s given up presiding over weddings, for the most part.
A half mile or so further, a woman is stretching by the rails in front of me. I recognize her from the gym I go to in the morning. We have never spoken: I don’t like to bother people when they are working.
Or any other time, come to think of it.
She always smiles at me when we make eye contact, which we’ve just done, so I return the smile, then keep going. Within a few seconds she runs off in the other direction.
This is, in a nutshell, pretty much every relationship I have, nowadays. All the friendship I can muster crammed into three second interactions.
As I round a bend in the river, the Civic Center looms up on my left. I know I’m at about the three mile mark here. I’ve taken my boys to that place to watch wrestling, including seeing Chris Benoit wrestle there days before the murders and suicide he became infamous for. His family lived within about 90 minutes drive from here.
That was in June, ten years ago. My son was only twelve at the time.
The year before that, in 2006, a Little League team from our city, managed by my brother-in-law, won the Little League World Series, defeating a team from Japan.
For any of you who might wonder, by male standards, my brother-in-law has (officially) accomplished something.
As I walk past the Civic Center, two young men on bicycles go by. The autumn colors are really beautiful this year, albeit late.
Come to think of it, a lot of really beautiful things happen later than we thought they should or ever would. Try as we may, we can’t really imagine the future to any practicable degree.
I reach a sort of wooden covered walkway, which I like to walk on, even though I turn around to head back the other way at the end. For some reason I’ve never quite figure out, the trail looks completely different when I’m headed in the opposite direction.
Come to think of it, a lot of things look different as our destinations change.
I pass two inline skaters, three skateboarders, and a busker. I thought about busking as a career when I was younger. However, busking is a little harder to bring off effectively when you play the piano as opposed to something more portable, like, for instance, a guitar.
This particular musician is playing a saxophone.
You don’t see a lot of musicians up this early. Nocturnal habits seem to go with that profession.
Of course, he might just be practicing, and decided to do it in an environment where tips were at least possible.
Come to think of it, that’s not a bad way to choose a career – figure out something you like doing, then figure out how to get paid to do it.
I run into my “friend” from the gym again. She has that kind of seemingly careless beauty that comes with people for whom healthy living is a joy. At any rate, with this particular encounter she doesn’t happen to notice me, so, by the unwritten rules of our relationship, I head by her up the ramp (shown on the picture affixed to this piece) and back to my car.
Much of our behavior is a function of various unwritten rules, of course; there is little that simultaneously fascinates and frightens us quite like the freedom to make our own choices. Rules help, because they keep choices to a manageable set of alternatives.
As I’ve written elsewhere, anxiety itself is a function of having more choice than we are constructed to handle. I have chosen not to ever speak to the woman at the gym (or anyone else at the gym, for that matter), because it eliminates a potential cause of anxiety. I can’t say anything stupid if I don’t say anything, in a nutshell.
I’m not quite sure why I am always putting things in nutshells. A lot of people are allergic.
But then, come to think of it, I suppose there is a reason why “idiomatic” and “idiotic” are so close to being the same word. As is “idiopathic”, for that matter, a word I always hear used to characterize the seizures I have, and which means “of unknown origin”.
Much of the human condition is idiopathic, come to think of it.