At times of change, the learners are the ones who will inherit the world, while the knowers will be beautifully prepared for a world which no longer exists.
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Back to the other world
I am running through the urban streets of San Francisco, my home for the moment, a hundred thoughts pillowing in and out of my brain spaces, rolling and tumbling around with each other. I haven’t felt this free in a while, and I know that the benefits of a break are reaching into my overworked engines and adding pockets of energy to the spaces that were starting to feel a little bit used up. I suppose we all need an oil change.
The city is strange, a layering of pipes and concrete and slabs on top of each other into an artificial environs, a place we all agree to inhabit, a space within which we all work, a space that we take for granted and forget to see after a while.
I wonder, always, often, why I got this life, how I got picked, arbitrarily, randomly, to be an assemblage of molecules to inhabit this space, and why I wasn’t born in Rwanda, or Chile, or Saudi Arabia, or as another gender, another set of brains. I’m not sure what makes me, ME, but I am here now, and I’m luckier than anything to be able to live here, now, right here. I want to reach out with wonder, stretch my arms, touch the city, feel the space, feel the people, feel the humans, live this life, do as much as I can with what I have, and build as many things as I can in the few thousand sleeps I get while I’m on this planet.
But, I’m running. I’m running, and I’m moving, and things pass by my face about as quickly as the thoughts come and go. I want to capture them, catalogue them, spin them around, push words in and out of space to tell the stories in my mind, the ideas I have, the feelings that circle and spin in between all of the people I get to see and touch and meet and play with.
I’ve just come back from burning man, from a week in the desert, from an experience I’ll do my best to capture but will never really explain, and the first thing I can do is tell you what it’s like to be here, right now, in this space.
The urban world is a jungle, my jungle, my playground, and the rickety structures that append new buildings in construction environments beg me to leap up, grab, twirl on them and pull. I can hang from the bars of the scaffolding and flip into handstands on a dime; the irony is that only a few hours ago, I emerged from the nail salon with freshly painted fingers and stared at my hands for a good long time, wondering what had become of the Playa dust, and what was to become of my hands.
In a surge of familiarity, I found myself rolling on the ground, stretching, bending, touching the world and the earth, figuring out the lay of the land through inversions and pulls and pushes; I needed to feel the world I was living in again. The city is a hard place; a place full of rebar and concrete and cement and closed containers and bulges that demarcate an infusion or release of power and fluid: water, gas, electricity, sewage, garbage, air. So much of our lives depend upon the invisible infrastructures that lie hidden beneath the perfect square saw joints of the sidewalk slabs, unbeknownst to each footstep on the surface above.
Perhaps our bodies play a dance against the city walls, a series of rhythm steps that feel the land beneath and tred-tred-tred-tred in a predictable rhythm; the only thump change the steps down and up off of the sidewalk and ascending a staircase into a building. A slow electronic hum and groan moves us up an escalator, through an elevator; a soft padding of shoes against a dull carpet brings us into an office full of the same electronic buzzing of screens and sounds and people, murmuring.
What are the sounds and rhythms of your physicality? How do you move through the city? What hurts, what feels, what aches, in your body? What needs to let loose?
And I think of the moving office space, and the sore pads on my inner thighs from excessive bike riding, and I skip and hop a couple of quick steps and I reach for the top of another walk sign, slapping the man’s red hand against mine and landing on both feet two feet into the intersection. A tall, slender, slightly crooked black man with shiny skin lifts his baseball cap up and brings his eyes into mine; his creases crinkle and he breaks into a shiny white-toothed smile. I stop, giggling, crouched in a recovery position and my hand automatically flings upwards into a bright wave and smile back. “Nice hops,” he chuckles, and I lift my right knee, leaning forward, taking off. “Thanks!” I grin, running away, leaping again.
The city is a game, if you play it, if you want it, if you feel like it. I’ll wander off the white lines in the road and skip-wiggle my feet across the curbed edges, playing piano along the sewer lines with the toes of my sneakers. Each intersection, each crosswalk, every piece of scaffolding is a place to wonder, to wander, and to play.
I love playing.
I love moving.
I love this city.
When was the last time?
You saw someone die?
You ran out of water?
You gave someone a hug in the middle of the street?
You got a hug?
You had sex?
You built something that you were proud of?
You told someone how you really feel?
You followed the twitch in your soul to do something other than what you were currently doing?
When was the last time…?
Every year around this time, charity: water launches their epic “September” campaign (I was working there for three of them). It’s a season where a ton of extra effort is put forth by their team to travel, film, document and market a story that will inspire the masses to give up their…
Each man must look to himself to learn the meaning of life. It is not something discovered; it is something molded.