Things Thought and Mostly Unsaid at the End of the Year

A dog went for a walk before the sidewalk set, and left his impression in the wet concrete. A little boy noticed this and etched his initials nearby.
The boy enjoyed the moment, but I wonder what the dog thought.
Among the things I think about on when walking alone at the end of 2013: It would suck to step barefoot into wet cement.


What is it called when you write fiction in the style of an essay? The narrator is not a real person, and the narration is not a collection of facts, but the style of writing is one typically reserved for non-fiction. I have written a few pieces like this and it feels both liberating and vaguely fraudulent.

Nonetheless, I think this is how I’ll write one day when I’m semi-retired and living in a little cottage in Inglewood with a garden out back and all my closest friends within bicycling distance. We talk about living on a commune one day because it’ll be more convenient and social, and it will work since we have a pretty decent diversity of skills. One thing we don’t have in our group is a doctor. We do have a mechanic, and we think he can fix broken bones like when we fall down and break our hips, but we need an internal medicine guy for the stuff that’s REALLY jacked up.

And as I’m walking, I also think about how I walk heel-to-toe, but I run toe-to-heel, which is why I can run long distances without damaging my knees and hips but look bouncy and ridiculous, too. Do you remember that “prancercise” video people were sharing on Twitter? A lot of people tagged me when they posted it.

And how I’ve not been walking or running much lately because I’ve been working too much, which is an incredibly foolish thing to do since walking and running – and bicycling and gardening… and spending time on hobbies that get me outside and active – actually make me BETTER at my work, not distracted from it.

And how the same can be said of basically everything: The things you do for fun or the hell of it make you better at the other things you do for others or for money. And they all add up to make you a whole, fully-rounded person who enjoys life and inspires others. Stick to one thing and what you have is a compulsion that breeds resentment, not a talent that leads to joy.

And how if you go long enough without doing some things – like running, inviting people over, cooking real meals, traveling, reading novels, having sex – it seems easier and easier to stop doing them entirely. And maybe that’s ok, but somehow I don’t think it’s healthy to outright stop doing anything unless it’s something ruining your health and relationships. And then I think, yes, but it isn’t in my nature to give things up and it is, indeed, in others’. Like nuns, for example.

And I believe that how people choose to live their lives is entirely up to them as long as they aren’t hurting anyone else. But I also think that certain things are part of our DNA as humans; among them, our bodies were meant to move, and our minds were meant to question.

And how every time I walk the hills near my grandmother’s house, which is where I walked today, I see and hear birds I think absolutely MUST be my reincarnate grandfather checking in. Today it was a woodpecker but at other times he’s been a heron and an owl. I know that sounds absurd, and that woodpeckers, herons and owls are all over this area – WE ARE IN THE WOODS, AT THE LAKE! – but I still believe it to be the case that he’s out there somehow and available to us. I don’t know if he’s actively seeking me out or if it’s the other way around. I don’t think it matters.

And I was thinking about how we all worry about what happens when we die, until we don’t worry about it anymore. That is universal and the reason my precocious 12-year-old believes religion to exist: “A part of your brain worries about what happens when you die, and wants to believe that you never really die-die, and so there’s religion to tell you there’s more.”

That is a paraphrase. I wish to god – or the universe? – I had a tape recorder every time she said something like that, which is often. Is it her, or her age? I do believe that at a certain point a good many people are too concerned with what others think about their beliefs and so they no longer express them aloud. Unless, of course, they are of the mainstream. Some people never shut up.

And how I wish I could bottle how relaxed I am right now, and carry that clean into the new year. At work, we have started a new business. At home, my daughter is about to be a teenager. I am in love with someone I don’t want to spend another holiday season apart from. Change begets change.

And those are the things I think about during a walk alone in south Alabama on the last little leg of 2013. Cheers to a year of unbridled joy and thoughtful concerns.


9 thoughts on “Things Thought and Mostly Unsaid at the End of the Year

  1. Knight: I very much enjoy reading everything you write. Also it is simply wonderful that you are in love and he seems pretty wonderful himself.

  2. May you have an unbridled year of joy and thoughtful concerns!! Happy 2014!

    PS. My parents are always just around the corner, and just looking at any pretty sky brings them to me face-to-face…

  3. What beautiful sentiments. I too feel your grandfather all the time. He is so proud of both of his grandchildren (as am I).
    I wish for you the continued love and happiness from all those people so important in your life.

  4. If you run toe to heel wouldn’t you be running backwards? I am sitting at my desk trying to figure this out and it is bothering me immensely.

  5. At the risk of sounding like a kook (or repeating myself), my Daddy visits me as an owl. It’s happened three times so far, the last time being this past Thanksgiving night.

      • Daddy was fascinated by owls. He loved them. The night he died, I was sitting on the front porch, chain smoking. My Mom came out & sat in the other chair. A power pole sits at the halfway point in the front yard near the street. As we were sitting, an owl lit on the line & just sat there staring at us. My Mom said “do you see that?” & I said I did. A little silence passed & she said “That’s your Daddy’s doing” & I said “Yes, I know…”

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