Growing Old In Riverfront Park

Walking in the park, I saw an old man sitting at a park bench. He watched the birds on the other side of the pond. His stare was heavy, as if connected with such a powerful emotion to what he saw. The memory struck with such force that it left him sitting here, comforted by no one, breathless, without life.

I would walk through the park each day and see him staring at new people feeding the birds. After about a week, I managed to sit down, but I’m terrible at starting conversations, especially with strangers.My point is, I sat by this man, with a million questions I could ask, and asked not one. I lost that opportunity. I was an ass-cheek away and couldn’t manage to make a friend. No matter how curious, I failed to ask the questions that would solve this riddle.

I thought it out instead. What could cause an old man such pain? What could he see in these people? He could’ve come here with his wife, maybe fed the birds together for years, before he lost her. He could be all alone. His only release of pent-up emotion could be sitting here and letting the memory drift from his mind. Maybe he came here with his father or his son. Maybe this was the point in space and time where he had such a perfect moment he just couldn’t bear to leave. We all have that point in time that we go to when we feel the world crushing down. It’s a happy little place in our minds that allows us to escape. He went there. I don’t think he’ll ever go back.

Why would you want to return when you have nothing to return to? By the time I summoned the courage to spark a conversation, the man was gone. He never came back. I was left with nothing, except the mystery. I sat and watched from afar, the beautiful birds that came back every day, all covered in a glimmering glaze, bright blues and reds. The people changed, but never the birds. Always beautiful. Always here.

I stretched my arm out over the back of the park bench, sliding my hand down, not paying attention until my fingers felt something etched into the space between the back and front of the wood. I looked over and saw ‘Lily Bird’ etched into the wood. Something about connectivity. I could draw my own conclusions, but there was just something beautiful about this point in time and space.

102 thoughts on “Growing Old In Riverfront Park

  1. A poignant tale that resonates for many at a certain stage of their lives – it certainly found abode in me.

    I view these encounters as triggers that help us pause and take stock of moments in our lives. Much would have been forgotten but not lost – never lost, I reckon. And those moments that linger might be embellished into something more agreeable, perhaps more in keeping with how we now view ourselves. And some, very few moments, confront us in all their minutest glories, and accord great joy and sorrow.

    Ultimately, that’s all we are left with, I reckon, our life experiences. And this is what we take with us and will have to account for. And that’s what I believe.

    “Strange is it not, that the hand writs. And once written, it moves on, never to return. Not all thy piety, not all thy pleas and lamentations will entice the hand back or to alter one sentence, one word” – borrowed and adapted from Omar Khayyam.

    Thank you for “following” my blog, Written Words Never Die

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  2. Thanks for following me and for introducing me to your blog. When I saw this post, I thought for a brief moment that you meant Riverfront Park in Spokane, Wash.–a place very few people outside of Spokane know about.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I thought your perspective of the old man on the bench was perfect. You nailed down the feelings a lot of people have but are too shy to share with others. I have a place like Riverfront Park that holds a special place in my memory. When I think of it I am beset with wonderful feelings and memories of times past.
    Thank you for visiting my blog “mythoughtsonamerica” and following for future posts.

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  4. I think of people I’ve observed but didn’t try to know them or say so much as good morning. I wonder what kind of world I would have looked into had I just said “good morning” or a comment on the weather.

    Again, thanks for following my blog!

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  5. We have a Waterfront park and this post reminded me of my last visit there when I asked a stranger could I take her picture as she prepared her fishing rod. She allowed it and my regret is that I felt so intrusive that I didn’t capture the picture the way I wanted to. I think of her often and wonder if I will see her again the next time I go there. Thank you for visiting and following my blog.

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  6. Quite poignant. One note, though: sometimes we old people look sad when we actually are not. It’s just the action of gravity on our skin and bones…it makes us look down in the dumps. Hopefully that old guy was having a pleasant revery…perhaps?
    And thanks for following my blog, “Let Us Live Like We Mean It!”

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  7. We are strange creatures we crave company,but only of our choice. We wonder but never ask. I always noticed when travelling,a person would sit in a vacant seat first ,never by a stranger. We all crave space,but also fear being alone. I really enjoyed your blog it struck a chord in me…..G minor I think.

    Liked by 2 people

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