The Magic Sidewalk
Each workday morning I pull into a space on the parking lot behind the building where I work. As I exit my Honda I’m juggling coffee, a backpack, workout clothes, and my ever-present iPhone. It’s a precarious state where I try to keep the strap of my backpack from sliding off of my shoulder, which is hunched sharply upward. If it doesn’t stay in place, it will fall to the crook in my arm, jerk my limb, and cause the coffee to slosh out of the cup on to my hand and sleeve. I have a 50/50 probability of arriving to my office with a soaked hand if history is any predictor of success. Somehow equilibrium is achieved by the time I take my first a few steps from the parking lot to the sidewalk that connects to my building. I call it The Magic Sidewalk.
As you can see from the picture, the sidewalk appears to be a rather nondescript concrete path, about 40 yards long, with trees and grass on either side. Objectively, it looks rather desolate in the winter and lovely in the spring and summer. But that’s only an observable view–it’s something more to me. The walk provides a transition from one world to the next.
As I take those first few steps, I automatically stop thinking about home and other things and began to ponder the work ahead. In a few more yards the eastern sun will catch my eyes and distract these thoughts causing me to notice the interplay of light as it shines through the branches of the trees. All thinking is pushed aside as I notice a sense of dimensionality between sun and sky and branches and their relationship to me. My body stops walking on its own and a new awareness takes over. The magic has begun. Wonder begins to stir as my senses take in sun, sky, clouds, trees, birds, sounds, plants, wind, and smells. The synergy of these things fill me with peace, calmness, timelessness and a sense of the ineffable. I don’t want to leave and I would carry it with me always if I could.
As I transition back to the people, places, things, and problems around me where I work, I hope that these brief moments of transcendence matter. But I suspect it has meaning only to me. These days most folks question the relevance of any subjective experience in the workplace. And even though I think it’s important, I suppose it’s best I keep it to myself–after all It’s just an old sidewalk, a scattering of Oklahoma trees in the morning sun and nothing more. And they are right–because that’s all they see. But the magic sidewalk is hidden in plain sight– and it makes all the difference to me.