Thursday, November 04, 2010

Walking Slowly in Traffic

This morning, in rush-hour traffic on a dark road, I paused at a light and watched a man walking very slowly and casually across the dark street, and for some reason it brought to mind some of my students, who amble along in the quietness of their own lives as I am rushing here and there through lessons and assignments. Cars were busy on the roads this morning, making their swift way to their destinations, while this fellow followed his own free will and walked as though the road was all his. It brought me up short to share the busy street with a man who made dispassionate walking a special skill. At 6:15 a.m., he obviously had no place in particular to go, so he gave leisurely and on-the-loose walking all his attention. In English class, I usually have many places to go – goals to reach, lessons to be learned, little and big tasks to be undertaken – so I’m sure the students often see me as someone set on getting somewhere fast, so fast that they sometimes, no doubt, take no notice of me as I speed by with my fancy lessons. I suspect most of my teenage students are somewhat like this morning’s undisturbed walker, more interested in being peaceful than in pursuing faint and far-off academic goals. They see the “traffic” of my English lessons dashing hither and thither, and I’m sure they sometimes simply keep walking in their minds to make their tranquility last. Yes, they learn a few things in my class, but the best part, for them, is most likely the little trips they take with their daydreaming thoughts, like a man strolling with serenity across the traffic.

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