The Town Center

Sunday Soapbox: The Town Center

Every town needs a center, a central square, a plaza – just as all old towns used to have, and in many parts of the world still do.

Just as every person needs a center, and every atom has a center. Towns without centers make the inhabitants sort of insane and broken-hearted – a town without a center somehow encourages each man’s house to become a fortress, where he turns and turns on himself, spinning on his back like a strip-poisoned fly, buzzing in puzzled consternation. Towns which are only streets lead, too, to driving aimlessly, lonelily, looking for company, not finding it. Without a center a town is not really a place – it is just a loose striated collection of longings – corridors of ad-trash and noise bumping our faces with their insulting and demanding hands.

Every town needs empty space. Every person needs empty space – his own room; a park; silence. And every atom is mostly empty space. Empty space is sacramental. Emptiness is not bad, as we are taught – it is sacred; it is our major composition.

I have heard – the nucleus of an atom is like a quarter on the floor in the middle of a huge cathedral. The walls are the walls of the atom. All else is space. Take the nucleus of every atom of every person alive on earth now and squash them together – the object formed will be the size of a large grain of rice.

The town is the person is the atom.

The atom is the person is the town.

And in this empty space, and this center; and in the streets like veins and arteries of the town – there needs to be dancing: silent and wide in the center; arms flung as open as they can be; and in the avenues, wild and raucous and sassy.

Dancing in the Streets.

My theme song of life.

For beyond silence is laughter.

Talk given on Soapbox Sunday, Unitarian Church, Springfield
Aug. ‘05
Dancing Leaves