He walks on a street that I know goes in a loop all the way around the entire city. I’ve only ever seen him on a specific strip, but that’s the only part of it I drive with any regularity. He could walk the city round, and I wouldn’t know it. He may be 20 or he may be 50, and it’s impossible to tell. He’s always clean. He’s always appropriately dressed for the day and the weather, be it a polo shirt and khakis and a baseball cap for high summer heat, a cherry-red wool cap and a down parka for the death of the world winter, and even a bright yellow slicker with matching hat and galoshes for days when the sky falls in silvery strips. He shows a marked preference for hats. He’s black, short, wiry—not skinny, but wiry. He’s clean as well as clean-shaven, and from what I can tell as I drive by in my climate-controlled haven of portability, has a fairly well-kept haircut. His clothes are neat, in good shape, clean, nice. He smiles, gestures wide and glad. I can’t hear him over the traffic and the A/C and the music, but I think he sings. His lips move, but whether in prayer or hymn or in simple nonsense phrases and nursery rhymes, I can’t tell. I do not know anyone who has ever stopped to talk to him, who knows his name or where he’s walking to and from, although thousands pass him each day and know him on sight, on their way from work to appointments and dinners and day cares. He will wave back to whoever lifts a hand to greet him, with a smile, and continue with his swaying, loping, dancing stride, from journey’s beginning to destination. Maybe he knows where he’s going, and perhaps he will be as surprised as any when he gets there. He is happy, genuinely, totally, and completely.

I, too, have seen this man on many occasions. He stands 5' 10" tall, weighs approximately 170 pounds and has skin as black as dark mocha. The word isn't really "wiry" so much as it should be "sinewy." Fat is something that cannot be found on this man simply because he walks up and down this road daily and burns away those carbs like a match burns sulfur.

I have no A/C in my car and the radio is such a sub-standard piece of crap that I could easily hear a pin drop outside my car while the radio is up at full volume. I have heard this man as I passed by him countless times. He is not singing; he is... not exactly praying, either. He has the look and sound and gait of a whirling dirvish, American style. This is a man who has seen both God and Hell incarnate and appreciates the experience of both in the way only a person driven insane by such things can.

His arms raise up to Heaven in supplication, as though he is trying to get God's attention and shouts at the top of his lungs, "PRAISE BE TO GOD! HE IS AMONG US! PRAISE THE LORD! NO RETURN! HE NEVER LEFT!" And other things like that. Men of the cloth, priests, have less conviction than this man. He does this all while walking steadily and never taking a misstep or tripping. Sometimes he will look down to the ground, as though to praise the dust beneath his feet and say, "This is what I'm walking on and it's the most wonderful thing on Earth, 'cause it's His." He sweeps his hands downward while stooping low and suddenly swings his entire body back up and arches his back. "THIS IS YOURS, LORD! THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME WALK ON IT!"

He is both mad and absolutely serene at the same time. I don't know the hardships he has suffered in his past or what he will have to endure in the future, but he has the look of a man who isn't concerned with either the past or the future. He lives purely in the "now" and doesn't give anything else another thought. He might be on his way to a clinic, he might be independently wealthy and just making his rounds in retirement... who knows? All I know is that he is living in a world that is both frightening and beautiful- a world of his own where God is the only thing that motivates him.

"I have upstretched my arms to the Heavens and kissed the face of God."

I have never known a man, woman or child to be the embodiment of such a quote until I saw this gentleman walking down Woodmont Ave. in Nashville and doing his thing. If ever there was such a person who truly believed in enjoying life to the fullest, it is this man. He reeks of glad tidings. And, perhaps, just a touch of insanity, too.

In many, many ways I envy him.

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