Where Does the Sidewalk Finally End?

For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends. ~ Shel Silverstein

by Pete Ferguson

As a child I often read the poems of Shel Silverstein and dreamed the wide open dreams of a child’s innocence. I pictured where the end of the world was, and as “Uncle Shel” suggests – where the sidewalk finally ends.

I searched in India – but instead of sidewalks there were many social and caste barriers. I searched in China – but there were too many sidewalks and McDonald’s. I searched throughout Europe and across North America. But I kept finding more and more structure and sidewalks – defined paths where society mandates we should walk.

Yesterday as I tried a different way to work I wandered down a new road where I had not been before and found this sign.

The memories of childhood daydreams flooded back. The limitless potential of what I could become in this life returned, and I have no regrets.

I’ve spent considerable time throughout the world traveling, experiencing, working, and meeting wonderful people – and learning from them. It has broadened my perception on many issues and provided new ideas and thoughts I had not considered before.

Secretly and playfully in the back of my mind I was always searching for where the “sidewalk ends” – where the paved world ceases and the world of imagination takes hold, releasing all barriers and limits on creativity and what the world “should” be.

Little did I know, the official end of the sidewalk was so close to my childhood home.

I didn’t have to search the world for it, although I continue to enjoy the journey.

This year I also met “Uncle Shel,” but didn’t realize it.

Often in this blog I have referred to Dan Miller, author, coach and someone who has shown me where the sidewalk ends in the constrained world of what many of us have been taught about “work.” Dan’s permission to leave the “sidewalk” has allowed me to dream about new ideas and opportunities.

When I was at Dan’s property in May, I met his son, Jared Angaza. At the time I couldn’t place why he looked so familiar, why someone younger than I brought about a nostalgic feeling. But this morning as I looked for pictures of Shel, I immediately understood… (and hope Jared will forgive me)

Jared has searched the world for where the sidewalk ends and has broken many barriers of how the world thinks about Africa, philanthropy, and hopeless women driven to prostitution.

Jared lives in Africa and instead of begging for donations for his ministry, he has worked with widowed women driven to prostitution as the only means by which they thought they could survive after losing their husbands to the internal strifes within their country.

“We made a commitment early on that we’ll never treat our artisans as charity cases. We will not let their past define their future. We will give them a voice and a path to experiencing dignity.” ~ Jared Angaza

Using what many might mistakenly refer to as garbage, they transform scraps of paper into beautiful and unique one-of-a-kind jewelry which is then marketed in America as chic fashion.

“The process takes the paper detritus of Rwanda — whether it’s school folders, film festival posters or paper company waste — and rolls, strings and glues it, then lacquers it with a wood varnish for durability and shine. The result is a collection of stunningly elegant and earthy pieces that look both tribal and modern.” – Nashville Scene

Just as the paper is repurposed to something beautiful and of great value, the women’s lives are also transformed as they become independent and successful artisans and business women.

Talk about the sidewalk ending and a whole new world of possibilities opening!

Where does the sidewalk end for you and what new beginnings are awaiting where the structured lines of society fade to wide open possibilities?

Life should be deliberate. Our peace, happiness and attitude should not be circumstantial. We choose it. Or we don’t. Ultimately, we all do exactly what we want. It’s just a matter of how much we want it. ~ “Uncle” Jared Angaza


Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.


2 thoughts on “Where Does the Sidewalk Finally End?

  1. Pingback: Where I Stand | learnactshare

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