Openly Anonymous

A few times a week I walk along the river from my home. The view is pleasant in an organised way.Nothing left to chance, each tree is planned, but still my eye is grateful for the view. Amidst it swans and ducks live out their lives, tending to their young and foraging by the  bank. In them you see the timeless dance of life, unfazed by our momentary concerns. I smile at them and pause to say hello. Do I have bread, if not then I am of no use . Having none I continue with my walk. Soon I arrive at a cafe of my choice and pick a table set out on its own

Sitting there, engineering a moment of peace out of the bustle of the morning rush. Drinking a cappuccino at a white plastic table, sitting on a white plastic chair, pretending this is Paris while acknowledging it’s not. I look at people promenading past my seat. Of course, they don’t promenade in England. They are merely going from A to B and I am re interpreting their motion to fit in with my needs..

A man walks by, not so much walking as jerking: his arms waving furiously as he tries to get his point across. “I told you.. I told you”. He keeps repeating the line, but he is talking to himself, and I have no idea what he is referring to.  I could ask him, of course, but god knows what would happen then. Opening the door on his frenzy, letting the mad dogs out to tear and wrestle with my composure. No sir, not me. Instead I cling to the first lesson of street  survival . “No eye contact”. Keep it general.  .If all else fails look at your paper but do not engage with the local population. Apart from him we all know the rules, talk at volumes which protect our privacy, discuss nothing which will give the game away to those whom we don’t know, look composed in a sea of uncertainty.

Reckless though I pause to look around. Another man has seen what I have seen, and jerks his head as if to say “Whatevers next”. We smile but keep it brief, no need to talk.. That fragile conspiracy which says that life is planned, while we all know that it is not, is shaken by the passing of this man. Thank god he didn’t pause to look or stop.

Somewhere out there are people that he knows. who remember him before it all went wrong; the drink or drugs: some crisis I cannot name, has left him out of orbit with the rest. So he moves by. Short of medication he can’t find. A wild asteroid passing through our space. Should he collide with us will all be lost ? We cannot say. Pricked by the sense I should have  done more, I look around but now the man has gone. One day we might be him, who can tell. Lost in clouds of madness, out of reach. I wish to find him and search but without hope. He reminded me what I always thought I knew. Most of us have friends who loves us. Perhaps the kindness of strangers is felt  by just a few.

About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in community, creative writing, faith, Health, Life, Relationships and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Openly Anonymous

  1. Miss Emm says:

    There is a place similar to this in California. It is at Venice Beach. Unique and eclectic is what I want to call it. The personalities are vast and varied. The great thing about the place is that they allow dogs as well. Not only do you get to see the person sitting around and drinking coffee but you also get to experience their dog (most of the time). It is scary how much an animal resembles it’s owner. Personality, walk, friendliness. If you truly want to get to know a person meet their dog first.


  2. Lisa (Woman Wielding Words) says:

    What a really wonderful post. Honest description meets perceptive contemplation. I love people watching and making up stories about the people I see (especially in places like airports or coffee shops) but I rarely write them down, and even more rarely make contact with the people around me.


  3. Enjoyed the blog, as always. Great insights!


  4. Wonderfully written, balancing the feelings of empathy and self-preservation. We all go through it and you captured it.

    I am reminded, though, of a funny observation my finace had when seeing someone talking in a very animated fashion while walking alone along a street. He remarked to me, “When I was young, I’d figure this guy was crazy. But now, I wonder if he’s crazy or just talking to someone on an ear-piece cell phone.” Makes you think…


  5. Kirri White says:

    I was thinking the same thing as Lorna…that he was having a phone conversation.
    BTW – I would have never ventured near the ducks and swans without an offering….THAT can be dangerous!


  6. You keep writing great stories like this, you will have a wonderful following. And I will definitely keep following you. Sometimes, the kindness of strangers, can really change your whole outlook.


  7. backonmyown says:

    Wonderful post. An observation: Those of us born and reared in the Southern U.S. probably would make eye contact and smile. Sometimes that might be unwise but it’s who I am and what I do.


  8. Beautiful Post! I loved how you captured every moment. I have a rule never make eye contact and it never works for me. I still get the crazy conversations…But it makes life entertaining!


  9. Jillsy Girl says:

    You have a wonderful way with words that keeps me wanting for more!


  10. eof737 says:

    The kindness of strangers is always appreciated though it might have it’s limits. 😉


  11. I am always so pleased when people leave a comment. Thankyou to everyone. They are very appreciated . To Lorna and Kirri. It is clear that I did’nt describe the hand waver clearly enough because he looked some distance away from being an executive equiped with the latest mobile technology. To Backonmyown. Your comment says a lot about you and the place in which you live. Southern England is very crowded so that, in the main, people value privacy over community. More’s the pity. I am not from the south of England but now live there.


  12. scrambled7 says:

    This is familiar to me!
    I do it all the time.
    I love looking at people and creating stories about them.
    It’s a good time pass.


  13. Julie says:

    “Perhaps the kindness of strangers is felt by just a few.” Thank you for the reminder, CD.


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