The observer

Sometimes, when I get tired of my old, well-trodden life perspective, I deliberately become a bare spectator. I just sit on a park bench then and stare at the people who pass by me. I can’t help wondering what is it that they, malleable human substances, are composed of. Incomplete stories, dim shadows of the present, they must be what they are not, past and future.

Everyone appears to happily ignore, in an intentional way perhaps, what they have left behind. What do they carry in their bags? The only dreams the years have not dissolved, together with some remaining fears?

I watch them all, the brave and the weak, struggle to hide their own slice of misery and loneliness, the bitter consciousness of being finite, dispensable. This might be the reason why citizens live so jammed, to plug each other’s gaps and not to crumble.

After a while, I stand up and join the stream of pedestrians, taking part in the play again. I recall, with a slightly mournful amusement, how I used to believe that getting older involved gaining wisdom as well as memories, and that the more you knew about yourself through experience, the happier you would be able to make your existence. As I grew older I understood that in fact life means a steady loss of things rather than an accumulation. The level of acceptance we have of our limitations is equal to our potential happiness. I wasn’t a very joyful discovery, however.

I have developed, in an intentional way perhaps, an ability to see our holes, though I realise now that precisely those scars, in the flesh, in the memory, may be what makes us keep walking. Some to remember ourselves and some to forget.

«Les Voyageurs» by Bruno Catalano

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