In the Park
Back in my favourite park again ... Sitting on
that grassy hillside, soaking up the spring warmth, and watching the
people go by... I haven't been here for a long time, not since the
mild days of last autumn. But as I was passing by this place a few
days ago, I noticed that the colour was coming back to the grass, so
I made a date with myself to drop by again the first chance I
It's just the same as I remember it ... and it's
different. The park itself hasn't been altered, but with the change
of the season, of course all the greenery looks different. I don't
remember seeing those vivid yellow bushes before ... but I suppose
that last autumn they weren't trying to attract so much attention to
themselves. And as the trees are still quite bare, the overall
appearance is still somewhat wintry.
But there are any number of different little green
sprouts poking up from the ground around the place where I sit, and I
am sure that in just another week or so, the whole place will be lush
and verdant again.
Just as I did so many times last fall, I watch the
parade pass by along the path at the foot of the slope. This is one
thing that never changes. No matter how many months, and how many
years go by, the makeup of this parade never changes one bit. In the
space of just a few minutes, I see a panorama of my life pass in
front of me.
See there, that young couple, the woman pushing a
baby stroller. That's me lying in there, just a few days old, and
sleeping peacefully while my mother gets me out of the house for some
fresh air. How many miles she must have walked pushing me
And just over there, not too far from where I sit,
a fat little toddler, barely able to stand by himself, chases the
ball his father rolls down the slope towards him. That's me too. I
can't pretend to remember those days, but I know I was there in the
park ... chasing a ball just like that ... falling on my face just
like that ... yelling and crying just like that ...
Where next ...? Over there ... there I am, in that
group of young boys kicking a soccer ball around. They've set up a
couple of goal markers with their jackets, but somehow the game seems
a bit one-sided. All the big kids are on one 'team', and the
goal-keeper on the other side (That's me! I'm sure it's me ...) is
getting plenty of exercise retrieving the ball from where it has been
kicked past him so many times ...
I look around carefully, but can't seem to find my
next self ... It seems that there are times in our lives when parks
are important, and times when they are not. Perhaps there's going to
be a gap here ... But maybe not. Over there, in that family picnic
group ... isn't that me? He seems a bit too big to be spending the
day with his mother and father in the park, but not so big yet that
they are willing to let him go off on his own activities. Yes, that
must be me ... I remember those days. Caught in the middle between
two worlds ... not comfortable in either one.
And now, there is a gap. A gap about ten years
long. Go to the park? What on earth is a 20-year old boy going to do
in the park? Get serious! He's got places to go ... people to see ...
things to do ... and a quiet Sunday afternoon in the park is not one
But the gap turns out to be not so long after all,
and after a short pause ... here I come again. And this time, I am
not alone. I don't look too sure of myself, do I - walking along over
there with that young lady. You can hear the sparkle in her voice
even at this distance, as her laughter fills the air, but he doesn't
seem to have too much to say. He doesn't quite know what to do with
his hands, his clothes don't seem to fit very well ... and he even
walks funny! What does she see in him? Yes, I remember those days
very well ... But I wonder sometimes ... does she?
Getting close now ... The young couple with the
stroller comes back, I suppose on their way home. This time, he is
pushing the stroller. I didn't recognize him earlier, but yes, I see
now, it's me. He looks fairly happy, quite contented. I don't think
he really understands well what has happened to him over the past
couple of years, but he is going to take things as they come, and try
and enjoy the new adventure opening up in front of him.
And that father over there, rolling the ball down
the slope to his toddler ... I notice now, that his wife is wearing a
long sack-like dress ... Yes, she's pregnant. Has ten years really
passed since those days? Somehow it seems like just ...
Now, looking arond, I can see myself everywhere in
this park, playing with my kids. How much time during those years did
we spend in the park? Uncountable hours, day after day. Any time that
it wasn't actually raining ... we were here. The two of us ... the
three of us ... the four of us ...
And as I sit musing on those times, I notice a man
sitting on the hillside just over there. Sitting alone ... idly
watching the parade go by, and now and then bending his head to
scribble something in his notebook. He too, looks quite contented.
His kids are probably off somewhere busy with their own activities,
he has a couple of hours to himself, and what better place to spend
it that this grassy hillside ... Yes, this time it is me ... no doubt
I see him nibble the end of his pencil, as he
thinks about what to write next. As he tries to decide ... to decide
whether or not to continue his little story, writing about the park
visitors who represent the next stages in his life, or to stop at
this point. To stop here, and leave the future undisturbed.
What should he do? Continue ... or stop ... What
should he do ...