Walking a Mile in My Shoes Searching for Empathy
By ice rivers
I've been waiting for the past four days. Waiting for an idea. It's not writer's block because I am sure that the right one will come along as it always does. I've been reading John Updike lately. His imagery and word use should be helping me along but I find myself stalled.
Even now, as I type my way into the unknown this is the best I can do.
I walked a mile in my shoes yesterday looking for some empathy. We have found a tranquil pond near our house. Three times around the pond equals one mile. The water is still but unpebbled ripples on the surface appear frequently. The pond is full of turtles, many of them (like me) sitting on the shore sometimes in groups as large as five, waiting for something to do. At our approach, they slip into the placid, cautious, unwinded water. Most of the ripples are caused by their shallow swimming, their shells covered by the calm.
Nobody need a sign here that warns of turtles (although I have seen a sign warning against snappers in another pond on another day)
A cluster of crepe mertel trees are disbarking and slipping into camouflage.
And yes, there are rules to guide us. We maintain social distance. We don't smoke nor drink. We are on the lookout for snakes. It's always a moment when you see that sign that warns of the snake. I remember when Bruce and I were in Wyoming standing at the base of a buffalo jump. During buffalo hunts, the braves would stampede a herd and head them into the horizon. The braves knew something that the buffalo didn't. The horizon led to a steep cliff. At the bottom of the cliff, the women waited. They waited for the leaders of the herd to charge over the cliff where the women waited with their knives, at the base where Bruce and I were walking. We imagined the whoops from above as the herd headed toward the jump. We imagined the shrieks of the buffalo as they charged over the cliff and smashed themselves to pieces, yielding a season of meat.
We walked along the base, hearing those phantom screams, and the whoops of ghost riders. We weren't paying any attention where we were going lost as we were in the ancient echoes of sound, fury and industry. We were in the middle of nowhere. The site of many deaths and much celebration. We didn't worry about snakes until we saw a snake sign, not just a snake sign like at the pond but a rattle snake sign. We looked at each other. We looked around and couldn't see any rattlers. We simultaneously realized that we probably wouldn't see one unti it was too late. We truned and ran back to our van.....laughing all the way.
We weren't gonna wait around.
Now forty years later, Bruce has problems with his balance. He takes tremendous falls on a regular basis. I'm never gonna make it to Wyoming again but I have my memories. Bruce is waitng for his next tumble.
Yeah, a snake sign sort of makes a person pay attention. When a person pays attention, when a person is awake, ideas ar rekindled. They have been waiting to be recalled.
The ideas wait.
Until one day, when the world is changing, we remember.
The waiting is over.
The image is clear enough to capture.