I have my first midterm on Monday, so I haven’t been very attentive to interesting things going on in my surroundings.
However, I did see something today on my way to work, which is lucky for me because it is now the seventh day after your post, and I need to write something. Baker Library lies across the Charles, on the business school campus. On sunny days, the golden cupola draws your eye, immaculately reflecting the daylight. On cloudy days, it is just a dull paint.
Early this morning, two construction workers were tearing up the asphalt to repave it. Initially, I was afraid something was wrong; the small Bobcat bulldozer one of the workers was driving tipped at a precipitous angle, tilting the body of the vehicle forward over its shovel. As I rounded the corner, I saw the second construction worker, wearing a reflective green safety vest and heavy blue work pants, and carrying a pickaxe. The Bobcat had returned to its proper position somehow, and the worker carrying the pickaxe stepped forward.
The best word to describe what happened next is “groove.” The worker hefted the pickaxe, drawing it back behind him. Without pausing, he slightly redirected the momentum of the pickaxe, swinging it up in a smooth arc that circumscribed his shoulders and his head. Finally, shifting his weight ever so slightly forward, he drove the pickaxe into the asphalt about a foot in front of him, creating a *chhck* as the asphalt split. Again. Up, backwards, knees bent, weight over heels. The smallest pause at the apex of the arc. Swing forward, arms tense, bracing for impact. *chhck.* Again. Up, back, over, down, *chhck.* Again. *chhck.* Again. *chhck.*
What captured my attention was the incredible smoothness and grace of his work. There were no hitches, no pauses, no last minute adjustments. I saw the music and the rhythm in his body and in the pickaxe, then heard it as the asphalt split. It reminded me of Roger Federer’s service motion.
Rhythm is a central part of life. We walk to a beat and listen to music when we run. We hear patterns in the random raindrops that clatter on our roofs. When we talk, we speak in a rhythm, when we sleep our brains follow a rhythm, when we dance we step to the rhythm, even if the rhythm is not the tempo or meter of the song. Sometimes when we write, we get in a rhythm.
I enjoy seeing these things because it gives life an inner pulse and gives order to our surroundings. Happy October.
P.S. It’s American Cheese Month (that is, cheese from America, not the yellow cheese that comes individually wrapped)!