Culture | Hiking

Collapsing the Space Between Us

“Walkers pass tight lipped, eyes averted
Only dogs tugging on leashes want to collapse the space between us”
– Ken Burns, In the Social Distance

A couple of days ago I had the audacity to post an opinion on Facebook and immediately faced the crush of for and against dialog that’s lasted far longer than the typical family picture flurry of activity. And those were friends, family and acquaintances, not anonymous Twitter trolls. But that’s the world we live in right now – divisive and reactionary. And yet we’re all basically the same people with a few differences of opinion.

Ken Burns wrote a poem that describes the time we’re living in, and read it on a NY Times podcast. You can find the transcript here. This bit about collapsing the space between us got me thinking about a guy we met hiking on the Carter Dome last weekend. Or rather, we met his year old retriever Emma, who was way ahead of me on the list of 48 4000 footers. I’ve completed 10 since I started re-tracking this year. She’s completed 40! Her owner was an older gentleman, I’d place him at 70, but he was incredibly fit from hiking all the time. He mentioned that his last dog hiked Mount Adams 65 times!

It occurred to me that I never learned his opinion on politics, nor he mine. Just people talking longer than they might have otherwise because of the dynamo swirling about us. Sure there was hiking in common, but really Emma was the bridge between us. When we parted her exuberance was the part that remained on my mind, apparently still, for there remains a glow of joy when I think about her rolling in the dirt. The world could use more dogs collapsing the space between us, and less media driving us apart.

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