Day 434, September 2, 2021

The Waking Life

In the liminal spaces, I forget to put on my mask. When I get to work in my bike clothes, I put on a mask to go in the building, but then I forget my mask as I carry my work clothes to a bathroom to change, and while it is early in the day and hardly anyone is there, a student sees me from down the hall, and even from that distance, and even over her mask, I can see the surprise and concern, and it is only a moment later that I register that I am not wearing a mask and slap a hand over my face as if that might make up for it.

Again, at the end of the day, I forget my mask when I retrieve my bicycle lock (I leave the heavy U-lock at work in my office) and a faculty member sees me. I walk faster as if that might mitigate my potential contagion. 

Conversely, sometimes I find myself walking across campus outside and discover I have forgotten to take off my mask and the immediate freedom and increase in oxygen is an exhilarating rush. Suddenly, there is fresh air. Suddenly, one can feel the temperature of the air in your lungs. 

Today, I solved problems. That is really the bulk of my work. Eventually, once we catch up with the way things are supposed to be, I’ll seek out problems to fix too… or assets to make stronger. But I’m not there yet. I ride my bicycle, I say hello to the fox with the long bottle brush tail that I spooked off the road. I greet the solitary turkey who seemed lost and uncertain as I rode past. I pause and listen to the turgid rivers, and say hello to Martha, and a little later, Jonah’s mom, who I pass on the road.

Today, the air was chilly and moist in the morning, and chilly and dry in the evening. Fall is in the air. I already worry about what I will do when it is too chilly to ride. How much cold will I be able to tolerate? Who will greet the doe crossing the street in the morning?

For a portion of my ride home today, my head was elsewhere. There was no one specific thing I was consciously dwelling on, and yet my mind was furiously focused on something. The landscape passed by like it was nothing to be noticed, like one drives home in a car. A passing truck kicked up dust and gravel and I pursed my lips and pedaled on trying not to inhale too much dust. My face was fixed in a frown.

And then I saw the fox. It stepped out of the woods and into the street and saw me. The fox hesitated trying to decide how to assess the situation. The fox hesitated long enough for me to linger over its lush coat and magnificent grey tail. It hesitated long enough that I squeezed the brakes a little so I didn’t bear down upon it. And then the fox, exercising better judgement, retreated back into the woods the way it came, silently disappearing into the undergrowth. 

That is how, on a ride at 6:30 in the evening, I awoke and noticed the world around me. Remembered to let go and enjoy the ride, the air, the chill.

Take care and be well,

Leo



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