Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Where Chalk-White Arrows Go

“There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.”

― Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends

My high school graduation speech was titled "Where the Sidewalk Begins", inspired by my kindergarten days of listening to "Where the Sidewalk Ends". I stood up there, ready to end high school and take on college, not fully comprehending the sheer stress (pun intended) and challenges and sheer joy of experiences that were ahead. I began:

The path of our education has led up to this day.
That path might have been bumpy, winding, or a joyous ride, but I know it was very long.
Yet, as weary as the walk might have been, here we stand.
We made it.
Now we are ready to look both ways,
cross to the other side of the street,
and go make prints in the wet cement with our bare feet.

This is where sidewalk begins.

It's so cheesy...I know. It's even more cheesy now that I laugh at my high school self who hadn't a clear picture of what bumpy, winding, and weary meant. Or even joyous. But if I thought graduating high school was where the sidewalk began, does that mean college is where it ends?

Silverstein seems to think that it is not so. Or does he?

Colorado School of Mines has been the place where the grass grows soft and white. It has also been the place where the smoke blows black and the dark street winds and bends.

Maybe this is before the street begins? And when did my life take on so many road, path, street, or sidewalk metaphors?

Funny...in college I stopped looking both ways before crossing streets and also started jaywalking across them. And some of my favorite times in Golden have been walking with a walk that is measured and slow in the middle of the campus streets in the late hours of the night when no one else is awake and around to crash their car into me. 

What does that have to do with life and paths? 

I don't know. I'm just going to miss it.