경칩 다음날의 아침 산책

김창완 국장 칼럼아직도 ‘봄’은 선명하게 자신을 드러내지 않는다. ‘꽃샘추위’를 최후의 무기로 내세운 겨울은 이제 자신이 물러가야할 때임을 알고 있을 텐데….

경칩 다음날 아침 봄의 소리를 듣기 위해 집 근처 장지천으로 나갔다. 나무엔 물이 올랐고, 갈대 이파리에 맺힌 비이슬은 영롱한 빛으로 봄꽃의 개화를 축하하고 있다.

긴 겨울은 영원할 것 같았는데, 추위 속에서도 봄의 전령사들이 이곳저곳에서 하나 둘 기지개를 펴기 시작하자 빠른 걸음으로 달음질친다. 그래도 미련이 남는지 꽃샘추위로 오는 봄을 위협해 보지만, 이내 부질없는 짓임을 알고 봄에게 자리를 양보한다.

어떻게 하면 그 하찮은 권력을 조금이라도 더 연장하려고 온갖 술수를 부리는 일부 태권도계 인사들도 이처럼 때가 되면 다음 계절에게 양보하는 순리를 배울 수는 없는 걸까.

바야흐로 봄.

장지천을 따라 한강으로 향하자 걷고, 뛰고, 자전거를 타는 사람들이 꽤나 보였다. 마치 오랜만에 속세에 나온 아이처럼 이것저것을 신기하게 쳐다보고 있을 때 필자보다는 나이가 훨씬 많아 보이는 어르신이 뛰어간다.

필자가 그 어르신의 뒤를 따랐다. 얼마 못가 지쳐서 멈추어 섰다. 그리고 나의 눈으로 나의 몸을 보니 이미 배는 내 발끝이 안 보일 정도로 나와 있었고, 팔과 다리는 살 덩어리였다. 몸이 무거웠다.

그 어르신을 보내드리고 뒤이어 오는 다른 어르신들 그룹에 끼어 걷기 시작했다. 한 어르신이 “왜 젊은 사람이 계속 뛰지 걷느냐”며 은근히 내게 핀잔도 주었다. 그저 웃음으로 넘겼다.

이렇게 걷다보니 다운 점퍼가 거추장스러울 정도로 더웠다. 왕복 45분을 걸었다. 거추장스러운 다운점퍼를 벗어 놓고, 함께 했던 어르신들의 이런저런 얘기를 듣기 시작했다. 그런데 한 어르신이 젊었을 때 태권도를 했던 무용담을 늘어놓기 시작했다.

“요즘 애들은 약해빠졌다. 내 손자가 태권도를 배우는데 아무것도 할 줄 모른다. 우리 때는 한 겨울에도 맨발로 땅바닥에서 태권도를 배웠는데…” 등등 이런저런 말을 할 때마다 내게 하는 소리처럼 들렸다.

다운 점퍼를 벗은 지 10분도 채 안 됐는데 추워지기 시작했다. 함께 산책을 할 수 있는 사람들을 만났고, 이런저런 애를 들을 수 있었던 봄 산책은 상쾌했지만 미적거리고 물러나지 않는 겨울은 불쾌했다. 태권도계를 닮은 것 같아서.

김창완 기자

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