As I was walking downtown the other day I became acutely aware of the hardness of the cement as the slap of the soles of my shoes jarred my body. This artificial pathway to work lead me to think of the plastic chair I would be sitting in at my desk. My desk is... made of what? I have no idea. Some bizarre plastic composite perhaps?
I would spend my day indoors where natural light is abundant but the air is recycled. Phones and intercoms and the chime of computers notifying their users of new messages and appointments were destined to fill my ears for the next eight to ten hours.
Eight to ten hours. Half of my waking life.
I paused at a crosswalk, a red hand halting my progress as dozens of cars rumbled by making the air difficult to breathe.
Slap, slap, slap. The red hand gave way and I continued on, each step a subtle concussion through my body. So subtle, in fact, they had previously gone unnoticed. How? I walked the same route from the train to the office every day. Yet this particular day I felt strangely disconnected. Or perhaps I was more connected. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.
Token planting pots, often neglected, lined my path. Partially filled with soil, the remainder filled with trash or cigarette butts, the withered inhabitants tried to rise.
Slap, slap, slap. My shoes called my attention downward, unwilling to let me forget their constant battle with the cement.
The cement was before me and behind me. It ran to my left into the road and to my right up the buildings. This was the layout that would guide me to the half of my life spent breathing forced air and sitting in a synthetic chair before a desk and glowing screen.
Then my hand did something most peculiar. As if to give my shoes hope, it rose into a tree and ran its fingers through the thick, green leaves on its low-hanging branches. A calm ran through my body clear down to my feet, which instantly slowed to savor the sensation. The cool, pliable leaves grazed over my hand and slid through my fingers. For the first time in a long time, I'd touched something living and organic, energizing my body and bringing life to my soul.