Thursday, March 17, 2005


I remember an image from central Pennsylvania. We would sometimes go hiking in a nearby state park. Along the roads of the park we would often see an older, eccentric woman. She would be walking her dogs—there were at least two dogs and maybe three. She wore a longish dress with a full skirt, large sunglasses, and a big floppy hat. She never looked where she was going. She held the leashes down with one hand and a book up to her face with the other. It seemed so odd to me.

One time my father came to Pennsylvania and we went out to where she walked and saw her. My father looked at her with admiration. I was surprised.

"I could never do that," I said.

“No?” said my father, “Why ever not?

“I don’t know, I would feel too guilty.”

To me it was like she should either be reading and enjoying her book or walking in the woods and enjoying the nature around her. It seemed like she was tuning out and going inside and being totally self-indulgent (though she was walking her dogs).

I was in my 20s when I lived near where she walked. I couldn't imagine being that eccentric, that self-absorbed. Now I wouldn't say "never." It seems more appealing to me these days. My father, for one, has made a career of being absorbed and eccentric. It is not the path I chose, but I could see it growing on me. Maybe in 30 years I'll be able to do something similar.

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