Today was warm enough that I could head outside to eat my lunch. The morning at work had been kind of emotionally trying, and so I needed to get away from my desk for a bit and let some of the stress trickle off my body and onto the sidewalk that edges Market Street. I plopped down on a bench with some recently washed strawberries, and the leftovers from a veggie/egg/cheese scramble I had made as lunch for my sister and her friends on Sunday morning. I sat in the sun, picking the green tops off the strawberries and talking to my mom on my cellphone.
She listened as I described the morning, and the manner in which I was handling it. I remarked on how much better my perspective was than it would have been in the past, and how I thought I was doing well at not letting the situation dissolve me into a messy puddle of tears. As I was sitting there talking, I gradually became aware of a slowly moving elderly gentleman shuffling down the sideway. He got even slower, approached my bench and eased himself down. It seemed kind of odd, because there were three other empty benches up and down the sidewalk, but I decided to be polite and not say anything.
I started to think that maybe this strange man was sent there by the universe to tell me something. Maybe this was one of those moments where by being polite to an unusual stranger you find yourself enriched by the experience. Maybe this was even one of those moments where the person you’re kind to turns out to be an angel who heaps blessing upon you (remember, I had had a hard morning). I glanced up at him, and he started to speak. The words that came out of his mouth were garbled and almost incoherent, and so I asked him to repeat himself. He said, “Do you know anyone who lifts weights?” With that, all my fantasies of miraculous encounters and life changing moments were dashed, and I realized that he was just a weird old guy, who had come to sit on my bench in the middle of a large city, and probably it would be best for me to move away. I said “I’m sorry, I’m on the phone,” picked up the remains of my lunch and walked to a bench just a little ways away. I felt a moment of sadness as I surrendered the hope that he was an angel in disguise as well as a little bit of embarrassment that I had entertained the fantasy at all.
I comfort myself with the thought that even if my work life isn’t so great, it seems that my imagination isn’t suffering a bit.