I often see him sitting there as I wander through the park. Always on the same bench, staring at the scene before him. His face mostly without expression, never smiling or acknowledging a ventured wave or nod. I wonder what thoughts and experiences are hidden behind the dark lenses that always cloak his eyes.
Today I stop and take a seat beside him. I am startled by his hello. I return his greeting and remark on the beauty of the day. He agrees and relates how much he enjoys the smell of the lilac bushes behind us and the sound of the trees stirring in the breeze.
“That is why I always select this bench” he says.
He continues by confessing how much he likes the sounds of the city, the urgency of the traffic on the nearby street blending with the voices that surround him as they pass him by. He comments on the pigeons that scurry around our feet, looking for the next handout. “I usually bring some bread crumbs” he says “as I know they will be waiting for me”.
I ask him if he lives nearby. “No” he says. “I must take the bus to visit. But it is a small price to pay to be able to experience the life that lingers here in the park. The days are ever changing and the sights and sounds do not repeat themselves. Life moves through here with bold steps, and much can be learned if we just sit a while and observe”.
“I must admit that you are much more observant then I” I say. “Many of the things you mention I never notice or take for granted. It is refreshing to see them through others eyes”.
With that, I see the first sign of a smile, just a slight curling at the corners of his mouth. He rises and says he must be going. Reaching in his pocket, he withdraws a folded white cane and opens it to its fullest. He turns in my direction, thanks me for the visit and says “I hope to see you again”. Then, with a muted tap, tap, tap, he slowly walks away.
Originally posted Sept 2012