Sometimes I step right in it. It could be good, could be bad, but somehow, my foot comes down right into it. All I was doing was taking a walk—could be to anywhere, the post office, the grocery store, down the aisle. The destination is of no importance—tell yourself that Brennan, assure yourself that you are a man on a journey, drifting happily so long as there is a journey whose destination is, truly and fortunately, impossible to predict. And then, splat, I tumble forward—because that is how we fall.

All through my youth my body grew more rapidly than my control of it. I had special gym classes at Paoli Elementary School to help with my coordination. I fell down often. I skinned knees, tore pants, tripped over air. When I walked my feet slapped against the pavement—whap, whap, whap. I was a walking announcement.

And then I hiked 500 miles, and my feet learned to glide over rocks and branches and roots as big as an elephant’s trunk. Maybe it was the ballast—imagine that ballast on the back—of my thirty pound pack. Maybe I simply learned. How do I know? What happens seems to have no reason in retrospect—at the time it was a surprise, and a change I hardly noted.

Now, I still feel moments when that 8 year old boy with limbs of wind can hardly find a corner to swirl out of. My hands follow music with a maestro’s insistence—and plays—and movies. I direct everything, even the line at the grocery store. What I step into now are emotional paths, occasional avalanches of everyone’s feelings—mine too! mine too! Intellectual thickets are no peril. And maybe, just maybe, because there is not one path, but a dozen (a hundred! More!), my feet, so used to gliding, stumble.

Who are all these people, all on their own paths, that veer in and out of my little journey? Little? Hardly. It is, fortunately, a truly immense journey, and I am covered in mud. No worries, there is rain ahead, and then, I will only be wet.

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Brian Brennan

I am a writer and a teacher. I have lived in Philadelphia, Binghamton, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Norfolk, and Northern Virginia. I have sailed on the ocean and flown over the North Pole. I write fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.

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