I TOOK A WALK TODAY

I took a walk today, as I do every workday at 6 AM, four blocks from my apartment to my office. This is like walking in brackish water; the late-night party people are straggling home, while the early birds are walking their dogs or jogging to the gym. I feel my feet on the hard concrete and drop my breath. I start the day by attempting to be as present as I can, as this moment will inform the rest of my day. My game with myself is to notice several new things on each walk: an unnoticed piece of architecture, a crack in the sidewalk, or an unfamiliar dog. The color of the flowers in front of the deli was particularly bright in the cloudy twilight. The smell of bacon in front of the diner was particularly pungent, hanging in the humidity of the early morning.

The same walk for over a decade, and something new every day. Yet the witness, this old friend who watches through my eyes and smells through my nose, who lives within and beyond this single human specimen, is strangely the same. What if I had died last night and I am in a bardo state, my spirit walking out of my apartment out of habit? I chuckle, feel my feet, and drop my breath. I take solace in the fact that in the river of life this city street carries, my awareness of this witness is all I have. 33 years walking these New York City streets, the teenage boy and the middle-aged man walking step in step.