For my part, I have ever beleeved, and doe now know, that there are Witches. — Sir T. Browne
[Written moments after a nightly walk. Apologies in advance for the melodrama.]
There is great thinking in walking. And when I say “great,” I do not necessarily refer to it in the sense of quality but in the sense of quantity; though, I do admit that, on occasion, walking does generate a fine thought or two. Whether or not this was the case this evening — as I departed from my crumbling apartment and proceeded away from the bar district which has unfortunately become my home — I will leave you, dear reader, to judge. Feeling antsy, I decided this evening to pick up on a tradition I had started last summer and had, since moving in August, not continued. So I set out this evening under a dark and cloudy sky that featured only a shy moon and what I believe we designate as Venus. Though I strolled under the waxing moon and the goddess of love, I found little love on my walk for I was alone. Yet I thought to myself how odd it is that I find myself feeling more alone in crowds of people than when among a few friends, or even by myself.
I thought about how much more content I was walking by myself in the perfect temperature of the night than I would be had I proceeded toward the bar district.
I thought about how little I allow myself to get away from the world and its troubles.
I thought about how if anyone who happened to know who I was saw me, that they may be surprised to see me undergoing such an activity. And I thought about how few people truly know me. And I thought about how little I know myself.
So I walked with quickened pace to the east, and though the sky was not completely black, its darkness contrasted quite nicely with the glow of the town around it. I thought about how walking in the suburb was so much different. It is ironic that an urban setting can seem more peaceful at night than a rural town. For the suburb has no glow around it, only the lights from the houses and street lights lining the roads. Few cars will be heard and hardly any voices, if any, will be noticed. There is a peace in a suburban neighborhood in the evening that is hard to match, and my neighborhood differed significantly as I listened to the random house parties begging to be heard. Nevertheless, as I proceeded further away from my house and the bars, the noised dimmed in due proportion, and I began to feel at home.
About a quarter of the way through my walk, I passed by an old stone house, perceiving it at first glance to be a church. I thought to myself how incredibly quaint the house looked and how I wished I lived there.
I thought about how much I despise my current place of residence.
I thought about how I struggle to define where my home really is.
I thought about how badly I longed to settle down and how incredibly restless my heart of stone was at the same time.
Turning eastward again I came upon another quaint house, what will be my new home in a few months. I thought for a second about knocking on the door and asking the residents how they liked living there. I thought again and decided a more productive route, passing and conceding that it could not be worse than my current place. My plan all along had been to walk to this part of town and head back, but I felt somewhat invigorated and decided to head downtown.
The lights seemed to beckon my presence, and I recognized that as I headed toward the lights, I headed toward the silence. A downtown area in a small town dies at dusk. It is, perhaps, similar to the suburb in its uncouth quietness. So I found comfort in its emptiness and descending down a main avenue, I recognized a large, beautiful building, what was the courthouse. I thought to myself how grand the building was. I thought to myself how sad it was that we often reserve the beautiful buildings for secular activities.
I continued through the courtyard of the courthouse and was surprised to see it lit up as if expecting company. The area was filled with benches and tables, inviting young couples to sit and chat under the lights and in the cool breeze. The area filled me with an odd mixture of loneliness and hope, for I perceived it to be such a grand area of town, yet recognized it to be such because it was so quiet. I perceived that if the benches and tables had been full, the area would have lost its romance. This being true in my mind, I decided to make the courtyard my own secret in hopes of sharing it with others someday.
My path that evening led me past a tiny liquor store and a closed supermarket. The supermarket reminded me of past jobs I had worked and how I would have loved closing up shop by this time of night.
As I continued on, I proceeded back in the direction of my apartment and the bar district, and my legs began to explain to me it was nearing closing time for my weary bones. Along the way I came upon a Presbyterian church. It was a beautiful building, even at this time of night with its doors shut and lights off. I thought about how uninviting it looked and thought that ironic.
I thought it ironic how the house parties would seem more inviting to a sinner on a Saturday evening than a church.
I thought it unfortunate that our churches were not open and that I could not go in and pray or talk to someone.
I wondered if I too had closed up my heart to the outer world, if my zeal for holiness caused me to turn people away who needed truth and love and beauty.
The noise of the house parties grew as I neared my apartment. I had a mind to check my phone and see what time it was but then checked myself.
I thought it nice that I had not touched my phone for the entire walk.
I thought it sad that taking walks had been replaced with televisions. I longed to live in a different time period, before the internet had come to destroy the world.
I thought about how the only thing that could have made this walk much better would be another soul to enjoy it with: that although I enjoyed the chance it gave me to reflect on life, it is yet better to share it with others.
Heading north I gazed upon the darkening sky once again and glanced at that shy, waxing moon and the planet which looked like such a lonely star. On cloudless nights during past walks, I remember how gallant that moon would look in comparison to its many children speckled across the blackness. I remember the first time in my life I had experienced the fullness of the sky at night. As I sat with friends in the mountains of Cameroon, we sat on our backs and gazed above us, counting shooting stars. There is a certain majesty which displays itself at night, a majesty which is softer and more silent than the glory of the sun. It is a softness much like the timid thoughts of my mind, which only come out upon a nightly walk. So as I walked this evening, I allowed those thoughts to have their voice for once, to have their freedom to roam.
And I thought about how modern man is anything but a freethinker.