I cross the street for sunshine. My daily migration to different sides of the pavement has become a sort of metropolitan dance, a two-step away from the shadows cast by one skyscraper to another. I'm annoying to walk with because I'm constantly crisscrossing you. It makes it worse if we're holding hands. But I reason it like this: How often have you seen a gem, an oddity, a surprise, a piece of information, an idea, just from walking into the light? Choosing a few childlike accoutrements to remind you of the irreverent, uninhibited, joyous side of life is mandatory in my estimation.
I'm attracted to phosphorescence in the way that on any given night in the height of summer, hundreds of moths, flies, and other insects can be seen making endless circles around street lamps and porch lights. This may seem like a exercise in futility or further proof that insects are not very smart, but such nightly pilgrimages are their navigational aids.
An insect flying north, for example, could judge its direction by keeping a natural source of light, such as the sun or moon, on its right side. Just about everything we do is endowed with a significance, and our whole outlook can be deduced from what we attach to rituals we treasure. Often for reasons we don't know.
Robert Stoller said that "a fetish is a story masquerading as an object." I'll take the light as my erotic and linguistic economy any day. Any at all. "Go out and walk. That is the glory of life," Maira Kalman exhorted in her glorious visual memoir.
The genius of walking lies not in mechanically putting one foot in front of the other en route to a destination but in mastering the art of sauntering—or as Thoreau offers what is perhaps the best definition of "genius": "Genius is a light which makes the darkness visible, like the lightning's flash, which perchance shatters the temple of knowledge itself—and not a taper lighted at the hearthstone of the race, which pales before the light of common day."
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