I’m sitting on a park bench after a jog. It’s cold, the air is misty, and January still feels new. This has been my jogging route for years. It grounds me. When I jog, I only hear my feet pounding on concrete and the gasps of my breath. I reach a small park, making sure I stop to rest and catch my breath. Next to the play area and soccer field, there’s a small bench where I like to sit. On cold mornings, I can see the steam rise from my skin. Here, I get to sit there and think, endorphins and dopamine rushing through my brain, sweating, steam rising. These are the thoughts in my head:
(Song playing in my head while I jog: Some Time Alone, Alone by Melody’s Echo Chamber; click below to listen)
we resigned the light to someone/And handed to the righteous/We will walk into the right motion/Some time alone, alone to wonder/Change your mind and talk/Waiting around/
While everyone else is moving on and on, and talk
Man, I love that song. I really need this. This quiet. I can finally think. (sigh) So what do I……want?……
You know, if you applied, this is about the time you’d hear back from them. Damnit, I should’ve applied. Wait……no….no, you did good. You need to feel 100% about your application, and you didn’t. It was a good move. So what now? Now, you ask the big questions- what do you want? Like, what do you reeeeeeally want. You got options. Yeah- remember the time you also worked for a newspaper? and a photographer, and a club promoter? Weren’t you gonna open a bar? The point is- you can do anything. So what do you want? I guess I’m still trying to figure it-
hey look at those kids over there, playing soccer. Remember when that was my only concern? Just….did whatever I wanted to that day? Yeah…..those were great, but that is no longer the case. You have students, you have the research you care about- these things matter. So what are you gonna do?
(there’s a breeze in the air)
I wish I can just wander, aimlessly like the leaves. I want to do so much and I don’t want limits. I can feel myself dematerialize, dissipating into the air, exploring the world, all of the space in existence. There is so much to do, so much turmoil. I can see and feel everything. The oceans are crashing onto the shores of coasts; there are people waking up today, not knowing where their next meal will come from; there is an astronomy lab trying to identify habitable planets. The clash between human progress and the ideologies that impede their development is a constant- I am witnessing this on a global scale.
I want to do good. Produce some good out there. But I’m only a witness. I have no idea how to enact this. So……what do I do?
I can see all of time, in the form of progress and regression, all the times the world was overtaken by grief, despair, compassion, and hope. These waves, constantly determining and reshaping the path of humanity. This is it- I know now.
I want to forge a direction for good. I want to see progress, whatever form it wishes to take. To push the tides towards what we value most- love, justice, peace, liberation of the oppressed. Since the days of the Tigris and Euphrates, the waters have been violent impartial, cutting through rock and carrying history. It is up to us to make them envelop the disposition of the past, turning them into rivers of hope.
I want to write. That’s what I want. The best way to shepard these waves- instill a shift with words. In all of history, wars were fought for them, country lines were redrawn. These ideas, these words- they were responsible for some of the greatest atrocities, taking people’s history, identities, livelihoods. They have also just as much empowered individuals, liberating the most important minds. That is what I want to do. I want to write the words that will guide the waters away from fear, towards goodwill, hope, and what’s right.
All I do is sit there, listening to the thoughts in my head. I’m sitting on the park bench, leaning back, like I was thrown back. Then, I hunch forward, wiping sweat off of my face, asking,
So what do I do?
Okay- yeah, I can do that.
(view from a Park Bench, expanded)