I enjoy walking by myself while listening to music. That is how I consume music, hip-hop and RnB mainly. They provide, I find, suitable soundtracks to the rhythm of my feet. This may come across as an insult to the artists, that their art is something I use in much the same way one may use a spice: not quite necessary but it does change everything. Mostly, it is because the other sounds – the cars and people moving past, the breeze in the trees, the birds – are sounds I have heard enough times. Also, the music distracts me from my thoughts. I have a tendency to live in my head, constantly daydreaming. This is how I spent most of my childhood, alone with my fantasies. It is an aspect of that time I relive almost daily. At least now I can mitigate it with Kendrick growling about his battle with depression. Occasionally, I will listen to an audio book, from writers with keen insights but no lyricism and turn-of-phrase to deliver them, but with sonorous or sensuous voices. Or a podcast.
It is raining slightly and I deeply inhale the sharp cold air, and with it, the scent of the once-again sprouting grass and bushes: fresh, moist and earthy. This is something I may never get enough of, the smell of rebirth and newness. And cleanliness. The air has been washed, free from the dust and the barrenness, it feels like breathing invisible glass. I can feel the uneven ground beneath my sockless feet, seeming to insist I acknowledge it through the canvas shoes. Maybe that is one reason I love these shoes, Bata Bullets. They are close to the ground. I can feel every bump and contour on the roads through them.
Even as I move further from home, there is the unspoken thought that I will be back there soon enough, no matter how far I go, whichever route combinations I pick. To a large degree, no one can walk away far enough. Eventually, all roads lead back to the same place. That is the nature of things. And this is what I am doing, is it not? Walking away, unlatching myself from the place that gives me comfort? I now find it somewhat stifling, cloying even, grateful as I am that I have it. The things that we sought solace in and the warm places we laid our heads, more often than not, become things we abhor, and hypocritically, still pine for. We dismiss the things we know we can always have. I do not hate home, but that world has become too small for me.
There is a recurring conversation I have with my parents. The “What more?” Conversation. Sooner or later, we always get what we want in one variety or another, but is that it? Is there nothing more beyond the wanting and the getting? Or, maybe, that is the point, that the craving and its fulfilment are for their own sake? Circularity. No matter what we do, are we to always somehow wind up in the same place, or mental and emotional state? Eventually? I used to walk home from work, before I hurriedly resigned. I told myself it was for the exercise, but really I did not want to get there. “I should not be here”, I kept thinking. Walking might, in a twisted way, be a reflection of my embrace and abandonment of some aspects of myself. I am reaching for something and/or I am running from something, alternately and at once, like an eternal spinning of a coin. Heads or tails? Both. Neither. We are back at the beginning. Or, is there even a beginning?
And, once again, I am back at the pale blue gate with the peeling paint, sliding the tiny door to the left and reaching my hand in through the hole in the small “people gate”, twisting away the unlatched padlock, turning the lock below it anticlockwise and sliding the konji to the right, in a rapid sequence of smoothly-executed flicks of my right wrist. I am back. I am both glad and deflated. This place again! This place again. These walks are blurs now, I have seen these roads before, and nothing is much different, except I am hot now, from jogging to beat the impending downpour, and quite wet, but not drenched. Maybe tomorrow, I will walk a new road. Maybe.