As I sat in the park, pondering my existence, I watched an old man and his dog. The man was brushing his dog so lovingly, the years of companionship showing in every stroke. He finished brushing, and they sat in the sun for a while just enjoying each other’s company and eventually they got up and walked off.
As they walk away, I see the man’s deep sadness and realize that he is missing his wife. She must be deceased… feels like a long time since she passed. Maybe ten or fifteen years. They wandered off out of my sight and a sense of emptiness filled me. I re-focused and sat, vaguely watching the rise and fall of the pigeons, enjoying the feel of the sunshine on my face, and the wind stirring my hair.
Several people walked by me on the path, but i ignored them, focused only on the birds the sun and the wind, and drawing some strength and comfort from that. One older man was walking along the path and suddenly stopped dead in his tracks in front of me and looked at my face, searching. “Are you okay?” he asked.
I smile, though it is a sad smile. I know my face reads easily. “I am fine” I replied.
“I thought you were crying” he said, still searching my eyes, almost surprised to see no tears there.
I smiled kindly at him, giving him an understanding look. “Not on the outside,” I said looking into his eyes for a moment and enjoying the radiance of them. I unconsciously moved my jacket onto my lap in a silent offer to join me. An offer he accepted without speaking and sat beside me, tilting his head slightly. He was still reading me. I could feel him.
He asked me what I was doing there. I smiled and said “looking for a job”. His eyes understand the many meanings I put into those few words. I asked him what he does for a living. He told me he was a pilot, emphasizing the ‘was’. I nodded and looked back out at the pigeons.
“What do you do now?” I ask, knowing what he was going to say.
He smiled then. He radiated. He said “I fly every day now. I just came to this city to look around and see what people do.”
I gave him a loving smile. “There is a lot to see here”, I said, nodding. We chit chat for a while… small talk… time passed very quickly. He stood up, told me that he had to be going, and looked me in the eyes once more. “Don’t give up yet. You will find what you’re looking for. And you are never alone.”
“Thank you” I said to his back as he walked away. I watched the vibrant, radiating man shrink. His back crooked, his firm walk changed to a hobble. Slightly staggering. I was suddenly hit by the stench of alcohol wafting from him. It didn’t even occur to me that it was odd that I had not smelled it before as i sat talking to him.
I gathered my things, and began the journey back. My step a little lighter.