I see the same man every weekend as my car dips into a part of the road that has been driven over one to many times. The scars in the pavement reveal its age and abuse. I take my time using the safety of my car as the excuse. I watch him. He wipes the sweat from his forehead. He digs. He wears suspenders and khakis and a button up dress shirt. He digs. He wears loafers and eye glasses that remind me of the glasses my father now wears, but were once worn by my grandfather. I think that they are too weak to aid my father’s aging eye, but he continues wearing them anyway. This man, along with my father’s eyes , is aging. His hair is white and his body has weight on it time has given him as a gift. He digs. His stomach so large his pants don’t sit around his waist, but instead around his hips. The suspenders were not a fashion statement. They were a necessity.
He’s a sad man. He digs to escape. He lives near the ocean. The chaotic, timeless ocean. It can be comforting and rhythmic and turquoise blue, allowing us to see its serenity. It can be black as the midnight sky, without the moon or the stars, but instead an unpredictability that terrifies us into submission to nature.
As this man digs he only looks down. His shovel is as tall as he is. With every movement he makes, his suspenders show their strength. Digging gives him a purpose. A baby palm tree sits next to him. His purpose right now is to make sure that palm tree survives. He digs. He forgets. He forgets the fight he just had or the person he has lost or the debt that he is in or his children who have turned into adults before he could watch them grow. He forgets the television he finds himself in front of to many hours out of the day and the technology that seems to steal the mystery from the world.
He digs and he remembers. What passion feels like and the urge to do something more and what it feels like to create and that moment when life is simple but stunning. He remembers her. Their palm tree had died. It’s funny how time works. Now he wants to plant a new one. Alone. Hopeful that it would bring a life different, but just as spectacular as the one he led with her. And so he digs.