“But how in the world have we grown so amazingly old?”
There is no hint of despair in this thought, just a quiet, even good-humored realization. Slowly, he looks to his left to that other man sitting in his park bench. Just halfway in his direction, barely enough to confirm that his friend is still there. He doesn’t remember having said that sentence aloud, yet he knows this man could have thought the very same thing at the very same time. So close they are. They don’t talk so much to each other these days. There is no need, either. Being there is enough.
Neither of them has a watch. They would not have a use for it. Time has no place here. Their spirits wander as wordless companions through the trees, paths and fountains, like two plastic bags driven by a friendly wind. They are learning what real freedom is about.
Inside the park, the man hardly hears any noise coming from the city. The afternoon sun warms his heart. To others passing by, he may look like an old man waiting for his death in some stage of vegetative somnolence. Yet, there is so much more going on within. He feels so much, nowadays. Sometimes, he realizes he feels better now than any time before in his life. Every little thing is now felt outside the realm of time.
Take this glorious sun, for instance. The warmth is now, “so now”, he thinks, as his mind drifts away a bit. This drifting makes the now eternal, as if the warmth itself was not tied anymore to a definite source, or to a particular time. “If I could have known this before”, his mind says without regret, before switching again to that eternal feeling mode. Without time, there is no end to what one can sense. And death can feel as far in the distance as it ever was. You kill Time, and you enter the gates of the eternal. As simple as it sounds.
He thinks now in sudden flashes, he collects ideas like a shepherd collects little verses. His brain takes long rests, during which he feels things. Intensely. His feel is soulful, inner, very his own. And yet it has such luminescence, such revealing clarity, that it is perceived as a universal thing, like bread for plenty. Within himself, he would want to become an apostle, to preach this gospel of simplicity. “Such a perfect balance”, he thinks, feeling microscopic and grateful. But it would be taken as a madman, so he refrains his sharing impulse. He knows his friend is following a similar path, and he smiles the fondest smile to him. “More than enough”.
Then, without notice, something appears in his mind, as if planted on his brain by someone else. Often, these sudden pieces of thought lead him to a strange, detached feeling. “Am I myself? Going nuts, perhaps? Disintegrating? Why am I thinking thoughts that are so not mine?
That something muttered in his hear sounds like this: “My only belongings are the things I have lost”. He never thought anything remotely similar. But it rings so true.
Far from feeling anguished, he is serene while considering these ideas. He smiles at himself. He knows he is finally mastering the art of not taking himself too seriously. In his tired mind, this equals somehow to loving himself and loving everything. And he is right. Life is surely packed with dead ends, so why bother? Whatever might have been puzzling to him years ago, he regards now with an infinite, disarming understanding. Not that the pieces have fallen into a grid. If anything, it’s just the realization that the grid does not exist at all. Things just happen. He cherishes that little charming chaos.
Some years before, he had a memory. Now he has shifted. He owns recollections. The “past” has lost some of its meanings. Past is a moon-like landscape, a fragmentary universe. Instead feeling deprived of his story, he treasures his recollections while they last. If past is dissolving, at least present has grown like a wild flower. Present is a feeling, not so much a memory. He is happy he can feel so much at this unspeakable old age. These windows of present feel so good and free. Who could ask for anything more?
He glances over the changing features in front of him. The afternoon light reveals the spider web awaiting its prey in a nearby bush. In a flash, the man can feel the exquisite order of things, like the insignificant, universal drama of predator and prey under that serene light of the final winter. He can see, exposed under his glance, all that natural logic, the naked branches, the first pink buds heralding the new season. And all that is so much more than the mere observation of known and repeated facts. The man feels as a privileged listener of all that supernatural dialogue above him. Nature is not a description anymore, but pure emotion.
It is getting colder now. He feels renewed again; gratefulness reverberates through his glowing soul. Turning towards his companion, his hand reaches the other man’s face. His minute eyes look at the man with faint affection, but the hand performs what appears to be a thoughtful and loving caress. The fingers trace every wrinkle, like reading on their own the forgotten disasters carved on his friend’s face.
This marks the end of their day. They come back to Time, and in the next hours they will die a little more. Tomorrow, if weather allows, they will kill Time again, silently begging the Spring to arrive quickly, to allow them another chance to flourish.