Every chance I get, I walk over to the city park, right in the middle of town, just to sit. Sometimes I take my shoes off to feel the grass in between my toes. A few minutes turns into an hour, and before I know it, I spent part of an afternoon just sitting, listening, and watching.
What I see and hear are the kinds of things that you read about in books of poems written by great authors. The kinds of things that people used to focus on before social media and the invention of small computers that fit in your pocket.
From time to time, someone comes and sits nearby. It’s usually someone older who looks like he has experienced life for a lot longer than I have. I love it when this happens because these become the times that I learn the most about life.
When I’m at work, I also have to sit, listen, and watch. People tell me what to do and I tell people what to do. Some of us wear ties, others professional-looking blouses and dress shirts. As the days and weeks go by, I am reminded that my generation is different than the people that come and sit by me at the park.
We have busy lives. When we talk, we are usually walking away from each other. Sometimes as we engage in conversation we are at the same time looking down at our phones. By the end of the week, we said things to each other, exchanged pleasantries, maybe shared a few laughs, but mostly, we don’t know each other any better.
Those strangers that I meet at the park, I think I know a little better. Just this past weekend, I was in Mexico at the town plaza eating a torta I ordered from a food truck. Under a tree, I had a table all to myself when a man asked if he could sit by me. He also ordered a torta and so we sat and ate.
He commented on the weather. The day was hot and sitting at the table under the shade felt like heaven. It was obvious that the man was a laborer who had been working all morning. His clothes showed that, and so did his skin which had that burnt color one gets from days out in the sun.