Kicking the can.

October 19, 2020 § 5 Comments

These days my life keeps moving the way a can kicked down the street does. I pick out a direction. It may be random, over there being little different from where the can currently rests inert. But I crave the more active kind of inertia; inertia of motion. So I haul back, take aim, and kick—and I send that can flying!

It is satisfying to watch it arc, tumble through the air, land with a clatter. Then I get to trot over to it, catch my breath, and take another swing.

I sense that this is the way to avoid the other kind of inertia: inertia of rest, the one that leads to depression, despair—and flat-out giving up.

The literal result of each kick I take at the can is that I accomplish a small, finite task, one that can be crossed off a list. Somewhere else another isolated human may be producing the next great novel, planning a revolution, striving toward a cure for Covid-19. I am content with an organized kitchen shelf.   

I understand that I am privileged. Those who are at an earlier stage in their lives—raising kids, paying rent, building careers—have to do more than stay in motion, ward off despair, organize a shelf. They must produce substantive results. While I kick the can down the street, they are Sisyphus pushing a boulder that is far too heavy up a hill that is far too steep. They have no choice but to strain to accomplish what they must in order to survive.

The good news for the young is there will be a vaccine; there will be a future in which Covid has joined scourges of the past like polio and small pox, threats that have been tamed.

At sixty-nine this could be the rest of my life. Or not. Either way, I will keep going, even if what I accomplish is small.

A body in motion tends to stay in motion.

So I kick that can wicked-hard, then watch.  Turning end over end, it catches the sunlight as it sails toward the blue of the sky.  


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§ 5 Responses to Kicking the can.

  • Carolyn Cohen says:





  • craig reeder says:

    Great metaphor! Of course to someone who knows you, and knows the powerful effect you are having on those in need with your pantry, it seems like what you are doing is way more substantial than kicking a can. But I know there is an enormous amount of dreary mundane and sometimes back-breaking labor that goes into making the pantry work, and that may feel like kicking a can. But you are making a huge difference in the world.


    • Actually, the pantry work gives me far more than it takes. I love the quiet solitude of maintaining the pantry, but more important, the food distributions give me a social life. Aside from making music, the food pantry is the way I connect with people, hear their stories, stay in touch with the world. I am grateful that I have useful work to do.


  • Gordon Magill says:

    You remind me that kicking something inert and inorganic can be a great release! Right now I feel like kicking a lot of things, not the least…fill in the blanks! After this election, we’ll feel like kicking up our heels and doing a jig, or kicking the door down. I hope the former!


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