This morning I went on a seven-mile walk from the apartment through Piedmont Park along the Beltline all the way to Krog Street Market and beyond, to where the sidewalk ends. The oppressive mugginess of an Atlanta July had already cast a stifling pall over the 7am haze. Even the sun seemed bleary-eyed and lethargic. Midtown was exploding vertically before my very eyes, the views in every direction obstructed by a spindly forest of scaffolding. The sounds of progress followed me around like a loyal pet. Everywhere construction projects jackhammered and drilled and bulldozed, accompanied by a chorus of smaller but no less arduous workers--the lawn-mowers, painters, roofers that kept the already-constructed establishments looking spiffy so as to delay their inevitable demolition in order to make way for newer, bigger, shinier iterations.
In a couple months I will look back on these days nostalgically, missing the time when I was able to take a leisurely two hour walk, slowing down the pace of life even as life around me rushed by at light speed. I used to be--let's face it, still am--so anxious about keeping up with other people, measuring myself by the yardstick of their accomplishments, viewing their successes as a sign of my own shortcomings. It's a toxic way of living. At the same time I was losing my sense of self and purpose, trying to fit into a prescribed mold that didn't suit me. Now, as I crest the hill toward the summit of a new decade and look back at the valley of my twenties, strewn with the rattlesnakes of bad decisions and scorpions of naive over-confidence and boulders upon endless boulders of undying hope, I understand that it's finally time to relinquish control. The more you try to control something, the more it evades you. The mountain remains constant, even as the cities around it spawn and spread and sprawl, an urban fungus of consumerism and light pollution. You should endeavor to reach the top of the mountain. But eventually you'll have to come back down.
I should go on walks more often.