Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Boy Who Walked Backwards...

Yesterday, barely visible through the wet fog, I caught him out of the corner of my eye. A brownish-gray coat hung to his small waist, while worn blue jeans striped his legs. All around him, other kids skirted to the bus, stiffened legs moving at triple time, miniature backpacks bouncing behind them.

He paid them no attention, moving backwards as if in slow motion. Tilting his head one way, and then another--but not in the way people tilt their heads when they're trying to keep rhythm. He tilted his head the way we do when our eyes are wide open and they see something brilliant.

I paused at the stop sign to observe him. His arms swayed like a monkey and he walked on his tip toes, weaving from one side to another with the carefree nature of a one-year old who just learned how to walk.

I sat for only a minute or so. Headlights blinked in my rearview mirror and the glare of iridescent bulbs jolted me. And so I pressed the gas and left him.


An uncontrollable grin crept from the base of my face. The kind of grin which tends to manifest when joy pries open your lips and hops onto your tongue and plunges into your body with the same commitment as an adventurous kid approaching a zipline.

I wish so badly I could have bottled up that joy. I wish so badly I could have captured that kid's curiosity and carefree meandering. I wish I could have dove inside his six-year old brain and saw the world through his sweet, imaginative eyes. But mostly, I wish I could have encouraged him to hold on to his simple joy, and to continue wandering outside the lines.

Since I couldn't, he inspired me to dust off the cobwebs, to claw my way to that spirit nestled deep inside me. To find the little girl who used to wander aimlessly against the grain, tripping over raised edges, shaking her hands with reckless abandon, lost inside her own imaginative fantasies that played upon the reel of real life.