Every Mile of Silence – C. Stevens

A-Businessman-And-A-Cheque-Story

He was sitting alone in the park, as much a part of the scenery as the trees which surrounded him. We’re watching him, you and I, across the grass. The wrinkles on his forehead indicate the depths of his thought, and he barely twitches in the warm air. The edges of his mouth are turned down in apparent dissatisfaction, and his forehead is creased. His suit jacket is wrinkled through constant wear, and his walking stick leans gently against his legs. He is sitting upright on the park bench and he has shown no sign of movement in the past few hours that you and I have been watching him.

Turning to me, you quietly ask, “Why have you brought me here?”

I ask you to keep watching the old man, who is unaware of our scrutiny. Time passes and the day grows weaker. The shadows of life in the park grow longer, and the golden light grows dimmer. The old man remains still, not noticing the emptying of the park.

When night has fallen, the man gently rises, dusts off his legs, and ambles along the path out of the park. Watching him go, I start to speak.

“Close your eyes,” I say, “and think about the man on the park bench. The man’s name is irrelevant, and so is his story. He’s an unhappy man who’s lived an unhappy life – and will continue to do so until the day he dies, which unfortunately for him, is not for many years. The man on the bench is you. A lifetime of mediocrity fades behind him, the relationship he let dwindle, the world he never explored. He’s lived a life without living. What happened to the glory days of his youth? The cacophony of vibrancy he remembers so clearly faded so quickly into the blurred memory of insignificance. The fog crept into his brain, unbidden, but it came. The fog blurred his thoughts, and when he tries to focus on the last four decades of his life, it’s as if someone else has lived them. He’s watched his life through someone else’s eyes. Teachers and parents told him he was gifted and bright, but great expectations were never realized. This man sits here now, wallowing in his mistakes – what could he have been? Who could he have become? Has he done one ounce of work which could not have been done by someone else? No! He’s sitting there fucking wishing he was young again, he’s sitting there fucking knowing he’d do it differently if he could! He wishes he hadn’t fucking waited his entire life to realize he’s barely lived at all…”

“Open your eyes. Are you going to wait?”

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