I grew up on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay. Ever since I sank feet into mud, bodies of water have influenced my way of seeing the world, and hence my way of writing it. That’s why ‘Water’ is an allegory for stories and fiction – for the flow of imagination – in ‘Walk On Fine.” There’s a Rumi poem that explains the link between water and stories more eloquently than I can, and it’s appropriately titled “Story Water.” I’ll quote the last passage:
“Water, stories, the body,
all the things we do, are mediums
that hide and show what’s hidden.
and enjoy this being washed with a secret we sometimes know,
and then not.”
I’ve been traveling, seeking stories and making them, ever since I was a kid. I’ve been doing it professionally since I left college. It’s a good way of making a living, and let’s me play with things like photography, journalism, fiction, etc. I’m a capable writer of both ‘water-y’ fiction, advertising copy and color pieces, and ‘rock-y’ analysis (I’ve done journalism for major newspapers and written on foreign policy for Jane’s Information Group). I am always available for hire, and can go anywhere.
The title of this site comes from a few places. In general, I love walking and movement, the process of going from one place or phase to another. Ever since I read it in the Songlines, I’ve always loved the phrase: “Ambulare pro deus” – Walk for God. It’s an old Latin commandment that is almost a sacrament, a pilgrim’s expression of faith in the journey.
But there’s a specific story behind Walk On Fine. In the Caribbean and West Africa, standard English is massaged into West African patois. Patois is truly a different language, not just an accent, and its rhythms and syntax are deeply expressive. While working in Cameroon, I took a crowded shared taxi between two towns in the Northwest Highlands. It was dark, and the car was so crowded – five or six in the backseat, three in the front – we passengers could not see each other.
An old man asked to be let out at a stop and crawled over my legs. He looked me in the face as he exited and his eyes grew wide. In this part of rural Cameroon, it was rare to meet anyone who wasn’t black African. Once outside of the car, he looked back and bid everyone goodbye. “Bye. Au revoir.” Then he turned to me. “Hey white man. Walk on fine.”
I haven’t encountered a better way of saying ‘safe journey’ since.