Twenty years ago today, the Global Walk for a Livable World began its trek across the country to raise awareness for the environment. For the previous two weeks, we had been gathered in a field in Simi Valley, CA engaging in long meetings, doing some construction with the support vehicles, and getting to know each other. Now it was time for the rubber soles to hit the road.
It was twenty years ago today that over a hundred people from all over the country travelled to L.A. via bus and airplane (and perhaps even thumb) and gathered together in a large field behind a church in Simi Valley, CA. The purpose was to convene and prepare themselves for the Global Walk for A Livable World.
Southwest Wisconsin always has had a special place in my heart. It is an area unaffected by the glaciers which covered the land tens of thousands of years ago, and there are a lot of bluffs and valleys covering that corner of the state.
I've been in Albuquerque during the last week to visit my father, my aunts and a friend. Albuquerque has always been a second home to me, not only because my father has lived here for three years, but also because I've had relatives here my entire life. Lately when I've been coming here, I find myself comparing Albuquerque with Madison.
Yesterday, I used the car to go out to Spring Green, WI to write and reflect. At least that was my intention. I read an article in Madison Magazine about the idea of taking a “micro-sabbatical.” Such a “sabbatical,” the article suggested, could involve a day trip someplace to take oneself out of one's normal routine and enable creative thinking about one's work and life purpose. I thought that would be a good idea.
What got to me was the orange street lights. Seriously. Chicago's street lights are a weird, incandescent orange, and that made it very, well, Chicago. I have many memories of various adventures under those street lights--excursions to different parts of the city to visit family, hang out with friends, celebrate the Fourth of July or New Year's. And it was all coming back to me, even among the gritty parts of the city near the Stevenson Expressway.
Now here I was again at Gillson Beach with the dome of the Baha'i Temple behind me in the distance--this time as a Wisconsin resident writing 150 miles from my home. Nevertheless, Lake Michigan was once again witness to the many conversations going on in my head, and boy, they were talking up a storm this time.
But when I moved to Wisconsin, a funny thing happened. I found myself driving among polite, civilized people. And I haven’t been the same since.
When I got back from Albuquerque, a couple of housemates commented that I'd gotten a bit of color, presumably from spending time sunning myself on the deck. Um, sorry, that's windburn, dudes.
It felt like we were looking into everyone's backyard in a way, kind of seeing the reality of the lives of these people as opposed to the Disney-esque setting in which most towns and cities want to present themselves. I saw a lot of backyards that had pick-up trucks in various states of disassembly , but this authenticity made these little New Mexico towns appeal to me that much more.