“Life doesn’t happen to you. You can’t just sit on a park bench and expect amazing things to whizz by on a conveyer belt. Life is what you put into it.” (Author- Holly Bourne)
Ray sweated more than usual on this humid summer morning as he took his usual park bench spot attired informally in his bright yellow flowered shirt, blue jeans and Astros hat in downtown Houston. Normally, he’d be devoting his full attention to the dog park run or man-made lake nearby. But today he struggled to maintain his composure. He’d already faced “lay-off” injustice in losing his manager job at Chevron Oil as the 2020 Corona pandemic deepened. At the time, however, it seemed to Ray that this loss might render him a new opportunity to pursue his long sought dream to become a free lance writer. Yet he fretted today about whether those long days punching out ideas on his “Word”documents had simply wasted his time! For Ray seemed desperate to share with anyone his first novel, a heartwarming drama centered around an adventurous Texas cowboy striving to reunite mistreated Mexican children with their families at the U.S. border amid today’s politically divided times. But where could he begin?
Ray’s attention now turned to the sturdy park bench that supported his tense body in stillness at this moment. He’d felt relieved then that he had found a quiet place to just rest and be himself for a change. It also seemed equally true to him that after rejuvenating himself on this park bench with a clearer state of mind, he should logically choose to rise from this idle seating spot and act more assertively in dealing with his current life’s challenges.
It’s no surprise then that Ray considered drastic options now to address his literary disappointments. So as some passing runners waved at him as they passed by his usual park bench setting, he boldly seized the moment to act. Grabbing a tightly bundled copy of his latest novel manuscript from his backpack, he abruptly thrust the package into the dangling hands of one young runner who’d stopped to rest. Being stunned by this unusual behavior, he nevertheless waved in acknowledgement as Ray yelled out, “Remember me.”
One month later as Ray sat in his usual park bench again fretting over his uncertain career prospects , a black Mercedes pulled up to a parking lot nearby. The driver, with a suave professional courtesy walked directly up to Ray and handed him an official letter. As the driver quickly departed the scene, Ray eagerly opened the letter and read the news that his writing career had suddenly blossomed. For a major publishing company had accepted his novel as written and was offering him a lucrative contract for future book sales. Ray reflected about taking the time some time ago, to attach to each of his manuscripts a “selfie” photo of himself sitting on this park bench attired in the same colorful outfit as today. For that brief park bench encounter with a running stranger that day turned out to be the influential publishing connection in the corporate publishing world that he so desperately needed.
So if someone plops down on the seat next to you on your next park bench visit, consider donating a favorite book to them. For in sharing a literary work in this informal setting with someone who likes to read, good fortune might loom in the air for both of you from such park bench magic. In the photos below, notice some of my favorite sitting bench impressions at various locations from our travels.