Stanley M. Fried
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Walking here...somewhere...on the street. Walking along: wondering what it is I might encounter. Looking around me: not seeing anything I expect. Not willing to look at what I see. People walk by ... I walk by ... unaware. This is not what I want to know. This is not and will not become a part of my life. I will not participate in their problems.

I walk ... I continue walking. I move ... I continue moving. What surrounds me is only that which I must know so I may continue. A curb. A street sign. There...the sign of the shop I must use. Moving through this without more than a glance, a mild nod towards what it is I move through. If it is not already a part of something that is now me: I do not want to have to take it in; I do not want to have to acknowledge it is there. It may change what I know. It may change what I am.

This is a cautious motion I take not to be noticed. It is a conscious masking of myself to others in mimicry of what I know they are doing. It so easily can be broken, this mask. I am so vulnerable here, hiding in public. Someone may notice a weakness, a crack in the covering, and invade the space I carry through here.

I move through this: looking without seeing; looking without been seen. I watch them trying to break through, trying to find an interstice through which they can tear into what I have known or the others around me have known. I move with hoping I will be ignored, hoping I will not be attacked.

Moving rapidly without being noticed, I realize the many layers of careful grooming it has taken to protect myself so well. I understand the efforts of those around me who move in this same way. Everyone nods and smiles so blankly as they pass. Nodding and smiling so they too will not be seen, even by others who do not wish to be seen. All of us here not here at this time, moving past one another so cautiously. Moving past one another so we may not notice we move past...passing without glance.

It is not only me in this place, in this guise. I do not dance alone on this street. It is all of us in this place together dancing cautiously about each other across the pavement past others: who can not dance, who will not dance, who want to but do not know how the dance is done; who we do not see... who we can not see...who we will not let ourselves see because this dance does not allow for such a movement. Yet, we know they are there. A blur seen through the motions we make is retained, if only briefly. Enough blurs and a memory develops. Enough times and a picture becomes apparent. Enough pictures and an idea begins to form that has no place in the movements of this dance. And I: can not stop this dance; can not change my motion for fear I may be noticed, may be unlike the others who dance this dance so well.

I continue moving without thought of where it is I go other than where the dance will take me. These are the only steps I know. This is what I have acquired. Without what it is I am, I would be not what it is I know. And I can not accept that what I know is other than my fate, this motion.

This is their fate, those without such movement. They are trapped outside while I am free to move as I please as long as I move without notice from one place to the next as the others who move that I do not notice from where they were to where they may be going, all of us moving as we learned and as we know how to move. Walking here...somewhere...on the street.

They peer in: looking...watching for a motion to appear behind the gates we have erected. But our movement is so subtle, they may never see us. They stand there, in their place outside. We move here guarded, perfectly mannered to keep them out of our lives, out of our minds...leaving us to be free within these confines we have chosen...leaving us to be free from what is outside.

For a moment, I stand watching

©1990 - Stanley M. Fried



walking was performed in Freedom and Other Myths at Sushi Performance Space - Gallery in San Diego, California in 1990. It was based on an earlier work titled Intimate Distance.

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