I always thought he was headed toward a bad end—the half-naked man riding his rusty bicycle along the highways, collecting aluminum cans. But he returns every summer. I am left wondering if he has a wintertime condo on stilts in the turquoise waters of a Bora Bora lagoon.
It took me years, but I have learned not to make assumptions and not to judge.
The guy on the bike might collect cans because he enjoys doing so; exactly because it doesn’t mean a thing. Me? Maybe I have tried a bit too hard. Did I need to work all those hours? Should I have visited my grandfather one more time than I did? Did I step on others? Could I have given more to families in need?
Collectively, when the pot is stirred down, we are going to find you, me, and that half-naked man collecting cans alongside the road.
I had a dream about the end last night. Not so much about the end. About my life. My life was, literally, a tapestry. The tapestry was framed in wood and made of earthy-colored fibers. A small crowd of people—strangers—were looking at the tapestry. I stood there with them.
On the left side of the tapestry, the beginning, the fibers were smooth and tightly woven. A flower pattern extended for a foot or two from the frame. As I scanned across the tapestry, the fibers became loose and frayed. The flower pattern broke apart, became a mix of random colors.
By the end, the tapestry was no more than plain burlap.
From the crowd around me, a man spoke. “Put your ear against the fibers and listen,” he said.
I bent forward and pressed an ear close to the fibers. I heard the soft beginning of Ravel’s Bolero. As I moved across the tapestry, the music grew bigger, more chaotic, crashing.
Bigger than it needed to be!
I have been thinking about the tapestry ever since. I have been thinking about us…collectively.
What are you hearing?