The man on the bench

Mornings in this city are busy and loud. The rush starts at about 8 a.m. as thousands of commuters descend on the downtown core in an army of city buses and vehicles thundering through intersections, and dodging in an out of the gaps in traffic. There are also a good number of people on foot and bicycles weaving in and out of, and around that chaos – until 9 a.m. when the noise dulls to what sounds more like an organized hum, pierced only by the occasional ambulance siren.

There’s a man who sits on a black metal bench almost every morning on one of the busiest blocks in rush hour. He’s dressed like a business man, in a beige trench coat, pressed slacks, polished shoes, and groomed snowy white hair. While the rest of us have our eyes on the ground, trying as hard as we can to get from “point a” to “point b”, he sits on his bench slowly eating breakfast out of a small brown paper bag from McDonalds.

Amidst the visual turmoil, the man’s hand slowly moves from the bag to his mouth as though he has all the time in the world. He looks completely at peace, almost as though that bench of his is a recharging station that is boosting his internal battery with all of the downtown core’s energy. This man is an example of someone who remains centred and at peace, even when faced with an uncertain and ever-changing environment or situation.

The man on the bench reminds me of this Collective Soul music video, which starts out sad but turns a corner at the three minute mark. Just for fun, here are two more videos (Gob) (Zerbin) with the same theme.

The lesson of the man on the bench, for me at least, is that peace is not something we find outside ourselves – it’s always within us, no matter what our circumstances are.

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