What a wonderful day today.
But for that one picture in my head. That lingers in my thoughts.
We headed out of town to go for a bike ride. With specific plans for sun. Sweat. And ice cream. We didn’t really need or want any more than that.
I wasn’t pedaling for more than three quarters of a mile and I saw him. Just a man. Sitting at a picnic table. Under a little sun and rain shelter. Actually a very nice spot to sit and rest. Or sit and talk. Or sit and just be.
He had a close cropped hair cut. Mostly grey. Some still dark edging to his hair. He looked lean, weathered but frail. He had some age on him. But I couldn’t tell if it was actual years, or life, that aged him.
I had just started a steady pedal rhythm. And my legs hiccuped. All of these thoughts in just the seconds I saw him, and then hesitated. A man sitting there wouldn’t normally of made me hiccup in my pace or thoughts. I would have said hi, or hello, or good morning and gone on my way had he been looking up or had glanced up. But it was because he didn’t. And it was how he was sitting. How I perceived him to be, at that moment that I saw him, that made me consider stopping.
He sat, his elbows on the table. Left hand was fully supporting his head as he lay his forehead in the palm of that hand. His right forearm lie across the table in front of him. With a cigarette burning between his fingers. A ‘to go’ coffee cup sat in front of him. I stutter pedaled because my first inclination was to stop. But he never glanced up. His eyes never darted at me or acknowledged my movement towards him with a glance of hope or even a dismissive look.
He was there to be alone.
Which is why I pedaled on.
But I wanted to stop. I wanted to say hi. I . I. I. I realized if I had stopped it would be to assuage my own needs. His needs may very well have been met by his finding that place to sit. Without someone bothering him. Without someone yammering, talking, or expecting something of him.
I still had a wonderful day.
And that vision of him does linger. And it really is the vision of it that lingers. Because I know nothing other than what my eyes saw any my brain processed as possibilities. Possibilities that were sifted through my own life experiences and understandings and imaginations.
But for that one picture in my head. I really don’t know anything. I only know what I saw.
I had a great day. But I still see that.