Summer has started tilting toward autumn, I thought as I pushed my bike up the hill. E.’s green ornamental maple has started turning just a little like a woman with streaked hair. It was just past 7 o’clock–I had unknowingly picked the perfect time to knit–coinciding with the sunset, a fiery ball in the sky etching a shimmering silver path on the water, while a wan half moon hung suspended opposite. The cool shadows spread themselves across my thirsty body as a man, woman, and two young daughters came up to me.
The man said, “Now this question just begs to be answered.”
“What’s your question?” I said.
“What are you doing?” he asked. And when I told them about knitting to the water, the little girl said, “I can’t believe you knit all that!” She stuck her tongue all the way out and pretended to keel over in a faint.
“Yes, an hour aday every day adds up!” I told her.
“Isn’t that inspiring?” Mom asked her.
“Just like your hair–I bet you don’t think about growing your hair, but it’s really long…” I said. Both girls had wavy chestnut hair that swayed about their waists.
“Life’s like that…it just grows and grows. When you start thinking about it, that’s when it becomes tangled and complicated,” the dad said. He namaste-d me and they walked away.
My silent friend, cyclist sans cowbell, pedaled up to the stop sign, gasping for breath. Without thinking, I leapt off the bench, crossed the street and asked him, “What happened to your cowbell? Did it fall off? I really miss it!”
“It didn’t have a point…”
“Does everything have to have a point? I’m still working on my pointless project over there,” I say, pointing to my knitting needles lying on the bench.
He smiled, “I like seeing you there…thanks for saying hi.” He had actually taken his earbuds out and removed his shades to talk to me. He had a craggy face, deep set small brown eyes, dripping with sweat. I could hear a heavy beat emitting from his headset before he plugged his earbuds back in, and continued on his way to the top of the hill where he would run up and down a flight of steps–all in the name of exercise.
D. the Democrat walked by talking on the phone. Then she returned and chatted with me for a while as the sky turned pastel in the sunset’s afterglow. She had had a long day gluing pictures of people running for office to boards. She reminded me that tomorrow evening the results would come out. We’re all on the edge of our seats, she said, and I thought “not me!” and wondered if that was a symptom of political apathy. She looked as tired as I felt after a day of drudgery…I thanked D. for sharing the charming story of the pooch with me. She asked me if I’d ever like to dogsit for her, and we swapped phone numbers. I told her I charge $25 a day, and she said that is much too low, and she’d pay me a lot more. A liberal in the best sense of the word…As she was about to leave, she stopped and said, “Thank you for knitting here. You really add to the neighborhood.” I could tell these were heartfelt words, and I was moved. Somehow, I felt that the weariness had lifted from both of our shoulders through the beauty of our communion.
A man and woman approached. “Why are you doing this?” the man asked. “I can’t explain it,” I said. “You felt compelled to?” he said. “Yes, that’s it,” I said, relieved. They had just put a bid on a house in the neighborhood.
The common strand in so many of my conversations tonight was this desire for a verbal explanation. In the last few days, I have felt liberated from the need to explain or justify things to others, and most importantly to myself, my hardest critique. Awareness that existence is meaningful enough, without the addition of a verbal construct. The presumption that I could give anything meaning through an idea in my head is absurd. Life exists, with or without me. As an artist, I have the good fortune of highlighting and embellishing it. Two friends of mine helped me out recently, encouraging me to stop trying to “find” my path or direction into the future, and to trust instead that Love is the path. I’m still savoring this passage a friend sent me from Meister Eckhart:
He who lives in the goodness of his nature lives in God’s love; and love has no why.