The Back of Things Again

I think what I meant to say, and didn’t, because I am finding the act of writing in a blog exhausting before I even touch the keyboard with my fingers, is that the most interesting part of life for me is what you often don’t see if you only walk the same path every single day.

Was that sentence long enough for you?

It’s all well and good to walk on the approved sidewalks that instruct you to go in a certain direction with one or two destinations. You will get where you want to go each and every time. You won’t sink your heels into the grass, you won’t get your shoes wet or get lost.

But, you also miss about 80% of the rest of what’s out there. You might miss the unbelievably giant mushroom on the other side of that tree you don’t notice anymore. Because it’s always there so you don’t see it anymore. You miss an interesting aborted attempt at graffiti on the reverse side of a wall you don’t see because you’d have to walk against the tide, on the grass, off the dull beaten path of least resistence.

Where’s the fun in that?

The back of buildings are flatter and less “pretty” than the fronts but quite interesting for what they aren’t: showy, expected. They are covered in weeds and vines which might form patterns that remind you of a duck eating spaghetti with a trowel or a squirrel waving its tail or a ship sinking with the smoke from the last operating stack blowing this way and that. You’ll never see that if you stick to the sidewalk out front.

You won’t see what people throw away, what they no longer have a use for, because often the garbage cans are kept out of sight. Next to the alley, awaiting a brisk removal by the garbage man who sees a whole lot more than you might on any given day. He knows who treats their dogs kindly, who needs to repair their fence, who’s doing well – my god, look at that fancy three-tiered deck! – and who’s not. By walking along the back of things, you learn a lot more about people and you see the things people think they’ve hidden, you see the benign neglect. The pile of discarded cinder blocks that have formed a lovely mossy home for a family of skinks.

The back of things, the hidden angles, is where life is.


2 thoughts on “The Back of Things Again

  1. Every once in a while, I see less benign neglect around the backs of things (especially houses). It can become a chore, noticing. Because occasionally you feel honor-bound to act on what you’ve seen (reporting a dog who is always tied out with no water).

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