Bench Time

It is mid-afternoon and I am sitting on a bench. The winter sun is showering me with light and heat as I watch life go on all around me. People walking, talking and driving. Birds nesting, flying. Clouds drift by overhead and everything within me feels still. I catch a whiff of cigarette smoke, enjoy the alcoholic fumes from the derelict asleep on the bench beside me. I can not help but wonder what our schizophrenic world would be like if everyone had more bench time. Time to engage the five senses, time to be still, time to watch beautiful women walk by. I know it is an idealistic aspiration to want humans to spend more time sitting on a bench but I can not help but think it is a cure-all for the potential human-made catastrophes that we as a species face.

As I sit on this bench I want for nothing. I have all that I need- sun, air, vision, sound, smell and a pair of new shoes. Maybe the wood beneath my butt could be less splintery and water-logged but I have learned how to become comfortable in my discomfort. Close to where I sit there is a café. Dozens of people are taking the opportunity to sit outside, during this break in cold and rainy afternoons, with their coffee in their hands. Almost all of them are wearing some kind of sweater. I can not help but hear what sounds to me like dozens of speedy, caffeine addicted voices chatting away about nothing in particular. I hear certain words that stand out from the rest: terrorist, Obama, paranoid, America, money. However, for the most part the words are all homogenized into one high-octane, caffeine fueled post modern symphony that lacks any real rhythm.

My mind is strangely quiet as I watch the squirrel jump from tree to tree and the dead leaf blow across the sidewalk. I want for nothing (well, other than a new sweater and a pair of Ray-Ban sun glasses) except for more time to sit here on this bench. In truth this is one of my only aspirations in life- to spend a lot more time sitting on a bench. I would leave behind the capitalistic world of job, status, expectations and materialistic desires in a heart beat, but unfortunately the option of living like the bum who is asleep on the bench besides me does not sound desirable either. I have no desire to be homeless and live on the streets but I would not mind leaving behind this artificial and imprisoning society in which we all live. How to do this? I have yet to find a way besides spending part of my time sitting on a bench happily watching the profit driven world go by. This is all I need but there is another serious problem that I think would get in the way of my bench time aspirations- cold rain.


  1. I can really connect to your writing. I too find pleasure sitting on a bench in the sun, with a book or my thoughts …. I wonder about the secret lives of homeless people, of bench dwellers. Much love to the people who put out benches, there is freedom on a bench. Good luck with your part time bench dwelling.

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