Friday, February 03, 2006


Not many people know that as I walk daily with my indispensable walker around a modest circuit, I usually sit down briefly by the bay-side in order to inspect the day—and check out the action on the street. Even fewer know that when skate-boarders glide past me I often ask if they want to trade with me, walker for skateboard. Some times I even ask roller-skaters and cyclists. So far I have got quite a collection of blank or bemused stares and an uncertain laugh or two—but no actual takers. The closest I have come to a live one was when a toddler came toddling over and put a vise-like grip on my walker. Not understanding the childish garble I appealed to his nanny who, as it turned out, spoke no English. It was then made clear to me that he had asked “Es esto su jueguete?” (“Is this your toy?”). I reluctantly turned the kid down. Although I might have really enjoyed a ride in his stroller, the nanny seemed less than impressed by the idea. Whatever!

The reverie of sailing swiftly down the street, carelessly and carefree, is hard to let go, but this “incident of the playful child” reminded me that the common term, in Spanish-speaking countries, for my walker is “burro”. As I made my way back home, lurching along, plodding slowly, I was also reminded of Balaam and his little donkey. When he wouldn’t go as swiftly and directly as Balaam wished, the poor little beast was cursed and beaten—about the way I have occasionally felt towards my metallic mount. But the little “burro” was only obeying the Lord, and how bravely he persisted.

It came to me that perhaps it is not the Lord’s will that I sail down the street on a skateboard; for that matter, perhaps it wasn’t anyone’s will, even mine, truth be told. This thought has probably saved me from a most unkind fate, for which I thank the Lord.

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