Schimmoeller_web-86If I had been in a car, I would not have noticed the possum’s expression. Recently hit on a road just west of Wilkesboro, North Carolina, the possum offered up a look of resistance. There seemed to be two extremes: going so fast you couldn’t see the dead animals on the road or going so slowly that you adopted their expression.
        During breaks, I scribbled diligently in my notebook, wanting to communicate everything I saw. To what result, I wondered. That I didn’t know this answer compelled me to record everything, in search. I no longer wrote while unicycling, preferring instead to keep my arms out like oars in the air.
       Just past the Kerr Scott Dam and the first hemlock trees I’d noticed in North Carolina, I talked with an old beekeeper sitting on a truck tailgate. He told me about five big tulip poplar that had been recently cut down. He was sitting there, he said, trying to get used to not seeing them.
       I could, if I went slowly enough, develop an eye for what was no longer there, such as those tulip poplar. Yet it occurred to me that there were limits, too, to slowness on a unicycle, that the pace should inch just ahead of sorrow. As I headed west, toward a blurred outline of the Appalachians, I wondered if, in fact, there was a correlation between slowing down and increasing awareness. An answer that surfaced—that awareness and velocity weren’t directly correlated but that someone going quickly may notice different kinds of things than someone going slowly—startled me. What then would be an optimal pace? If my sole aim were slowness, I could go more slowly walking. As an added bonus, the world would be less wavy. I still couldn’t answer the cheerleader’s question about why I was on a unicycle. Not that she was waiting to find out.