One day, while I was out for a walk in my favorite park, I stumbled on a path I never took before. I decided to explore it. I think I walked through low hanging trees for at least a hundred yards.
I came across a bench that looked like it hadn’t been used for years. I sat down and started musing on all manner of things. The stillness of the place was deafening. I thought what a wonderful place to collect one’s thoughts and come to some decisions.
When, out of the trees, came a man dressed in a long trench coat with the collar turned up. He was walking sort of hunched over, a picture of complete dejection. His expression was one of hopelessness. He slumped down next to me on the bench. A few minutes of silence passed between us.
“Nice day,” I thought I’d open the conversation.
“I hadn’t noticed,” my bench mate mumbled.
“I find it very relaxing here.”
The trench coat just stared at me in disbelief.
“My name is Dave, what’s yours?”
“Nick,” he said, barely audible.
“Well, Nick, why the long face?”
“I’ve lost interest in life, I’ve lost control. People are always taking advantage of me. I’ve lost my confidence and I feel depressed. I feel nothing will get better.”
“Give me some examples of why you feel this way.”
I thought I might be able to help this chap.
“Well, this might sound silly, but I was at a party and I had to use the toilet. Now, everyone was within earshot of the bathroom. So I held off, because I didn’t want to be embarrassed by any toilet sounds. Needless to say, I left the party early.”
“Now, what you should have done was to use the toilet and not worry about what other people think.”
Nick nodded his head, feebly.
“I keep being told to apologize for things I don’t feel sorry about. But I go ahead and ask for forgiveness. I allow myself to feel low and manipulated.”
“You keep being the victim all the time. You let people pull your strings. You should just state what you believe and stop being upset because someone refuses to understand your point of view.”
Nick looked perplexed. Then he started crying.
“My wife died six months ago and I can’t get over it.I’ve become a wreck. I’ve become immobilized and I can’t get on with living. I constantly say, “Why has this happened? It shouldn’t have happened.”
“Nick, I lost my wife too. I mourned for awhile and expressed my sadness at losing my partner and then I turned my thoughts to my need to be alive and enjoy living. I refused to be endlessly depressed.”
Nick’s face seemed to brighten and he said:
“Well, I think I better be going, thanks for the chat.”
He got up and walked down the path and he disappeared in the heavy vegetation.
I went home and switched on the TV. The news was on. It seemed a man wearing a trench coat was threatening to jump from a sixth floor office window. And before the negotiator got there, he came back inside on his own volition. Then the man’s picture flashed on the screen. It was Nick!