There is a reason to listen to music while you walk or run. I don’t. I mostly talk to myself or look around at the scenery. Sometimes I zone out and just feel the movement of one foot in front of the other. Most of the time, my mind wanders.

It might be best if I could just shut my mind off, but I can’t. And today my mind was on worms.

I live in the South and it has been a rainy spring. It is also hot. The temperatures have been in the high nineties during the day and dip down to high seventies at night. I try to walk before sunrise or during sunrise or as early as possible without setting an alarm.

My routine has been to get up and get dressed, then make a pot of coffee, hit the start button and leave the house. I walk around the block and by the time I get back to the house, the coffee is brewed. I then pour a cup, add a straw for sipping without spilling, and leave the house again and go off in the other direction, creating a figure eight path.

I thought I was walking about 1.5 miles but I actually mapped it today and it was 1.99 miles (without all the trips in and out of the house) so I’m counting it as two miles.

And now, worms. You see, there is lots of worm traffic at night. I have no idea where the worms think they are going, but they don’t have reliable GPS or anything. For some reason, before sunrise makes the sidewalk look like a good place for a worm. But the stored heat quickly wears the little buggers out. And there is no water there. And it is much farther than a worm might imagine.

And I’m walking on the same sidewalk, littered with the corpses of all the other worms that didn’t make it over the last few days. And then there are the struggling worms. The ones that are trying to get back to the lush coolness and the blissful dampness of the lawns.

Sometimes they are heading in the right direction and may get there before it is too late. Sometimes they are never going to find relief because they changed course and are now going in the same direction as the endless sidewalk (in worm units).

I don’t step on them. I don’t step on the dead ones and I surely don’t step on the live ones. But they are pretty much doomed. Especially after the sun rises and the drying, hot rays peek over the Carolina pines. Worms are not built for sun. They are built for shade and dirt and not cement.

And I could do something, but I don’t. I could squat down and count it as part of a workout. I could scoop up and struggling worm and put it in the grass on the other side of the cement ocean. I could. But I don’t. I don’t squish them, which might be a kindness and put them out of their misery. I don’t help them reach safety. I walk around them and ponder my godness in relation to worms. I have the gift of life or death in my hands.

It is my fault that their ancestral lands are paved over and they are confronted with never-ending swaths of cement ribbons slicing through their shaded, damp grassland. And I simply walk on and don’t help them.

The worms don’t pile up forever even though I see new worms making unsuccessful treks each and every day. I’m assuming that birds or some other critters find the worms and are grateful for the easy pickings, like arriving at a buffet table.

So if I help the worms, do I hurt the birds? Do the birds really need the dried up worms? Is this really any of my business in the first place?

And that is why you should listen to music when you walk.

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