Short stories: The old man on the bench, simply loved all those around him

spiritedStarred Page By spirited, 11th Jun 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Short Stories

This short story is essentially about inner emptiness, and discontentment at not being able to fill it outwardly.

The emptiness that we feel within must not be filled from without. All of our thoughts cannot fill the inner emptiness. They are just topping on the cake of indigestion.

The only way to fullness is to embrace true emptiness. You must love not just think about it, or about ways to do it. There are no solutions to find, other than which love provides.

John's lifetime of spiritual searching for himself

John had been on a spiritual search for most of his life.

John was now seventy-five years old. His whole life, he had been wanting to find the truth, not only that though, he wanted to be what the masters would call, “enlightened”, or “self-realized”.

John had walked along many spiritual paths, from Buddhism, to Judaism, and Christianity, to even dabbling with some of the New Age ones, like Shamanism, and Druidism.

There was probably no religion that John had not made a careful and lengthy study of.

John had put his heart into his following of these religions, but his questioning mind always seemed to raise still another doubt about each one of them. John, it seemed, was never fully satisfied with any of them!

John was troubled both within his heart and his mind. Nothing, none of these teachings ever completely satisfied him, or his inquiring mind.

John had a good friend called Bob, who he used to talk these matters over with. John used him as a sounding board for his own thoughts and speculations.

"You can be still and still moving. Content, even in your discontent."

This quote is from the American spiritual teacher, Ram Dass.

John didn't know this as yet.

John's friend Bob seems to be a changed man this night. Something was different about him. His whole demeanour had changed.

One dark cold Saturday night, we find John at Bob's house discussing truth, over still another mug of hot coffee.

Bob told John, that he had met an unusual old gentleman in the park that very week-end. In fact, he now told John, this event had happened to me, just this very morning.

Apparently, this old guy was well-known by people who lived in the vicinity of that park. The poor old, lonely, looking guy just sat there on a bench there, all the day long.

Anyone that sat down next to him, he would say “Hello” to.

Bob himself, tired from his early morning jog, had sat down next to this old man himself. The old man had said, “Hello”.

Bob had replied, “Good morning”, and then he had asked the old man about what it was that he was doing in the park, on his own, on this particularly cold and chilly, wintery, Saturday morning.

The old man had just winked at Bob, as he answered him, “It was to talk to you”.

Bob didn't go on any more about it then anymore, but John could see that something had changed in his oldest, old friend, Bob.

John couldn't easily put his finger on what exactly it was, but Bob seemed to be much lighter, and more relaxed today, both in his thoughts, and in his general carriage of himself. Even his body looked different. It looked like a great weight had been lifted off from his shoulders.

Bob had been an accountant. He was a thinker like John was. This is why they had become such good friends. They were peas, cast together in the same pod.

“The ones that always, always want something better, will never find better.”

This above quote is from Anthony Liccione, an American poet, and spiritual philosopher.

John visits the park, and he meets the mysterious old man for himself

Fast forward then to the very next day, which was a Sunday morning, and it was equally as cold, just as the day was, that had just gone before.

John went to the park. He didn't go to jog though. He put on his heaviest coat to protect himself from the bitterly cold strong blustery wind that was blowing that morning.

John was rather surprised when he reached the bench that Bob had told him about.

He never really expected to see anyone there at all, but no, there was the old gentleman sitting there, doing nothing at all it seemed, but just looking out blankly into the frosty mist, that surrounded him.

John took a seat right next to him, and the old gentleman, turned his eyes towards him, as he said, “Hi”.

John said, “Good morning”, and then he said no more. Neither did the old man speak either.

Five minutes went by. John was getting agitated. Another five minutes passed. John was worrying about what he should say to the man.

Even the morning chorus of the birds in the trees was annoying him. The brightness of the morning sun was just arising too. It made him start to squint now. His position on this seat seemed to be lining him up directly in its sight. It was blinding him.

John half thought to himself that he would get up, and just stand there with his back to the sun, but no, he remained seated there on the bench, for now. Something seemed to be gluing him to the seat. He was frozen in his spot, and it wasn't the cold that was doing this to him. something else was going on here.

John was becoming more and more uncomfortable. He wanted to be changed like his friend had been changed, but nothing was happening here at all for him. Nothing.

Another long fifteen minutes of silence painfully, slowly, ticked themselves away now.

There was no silence within John's mind though. His thoughts were playing havoc with his mind. They were traveling through him now, all at triple warp speed now.

“What should I do now? Should I talk to this guy? Will he think that I am some type of an idiot, if I do? I don't know for sure if it was even this guy that changed Bob. Maybe this was a wild goose chase. I am freezing sitting here, even with this thick duffel coat on. I think I will go on home again. No, maybe another five minutes more. Something will happen. Don't give up just yet. This must be some type of a spiritual endurance test for me. Yeh, that's it, the old guy will transmit to me some type of a secret message, I'm sure. Nothing is ever a waste of time now, is it?”

These thoughts, and more pounded at him loudly from within from all sides.

Just then, after thirty minutes had now passed, the senile looking old guy, looked quizzically over at John again, once more again, “Well, what are you thinking of son? he said. “Me, I never let my thoughts disturb me”, he added quietly, almost as an afterthought.

So quietly had the man added this afterthought that John had had to strain his ears a bit to hear what he had just said.

He did hear it though. The next section outlines the effect that it had on him.

"Listening is a positive act: you have to put yourself out to do it."

This quote is from the English artist, David Hockney. It is so true, we do have to put our real self out there in order to really listen to what is going on in our lives!

A thought explosion occurs in John's head. It's fuse was his listening!

Suddenly another thought burst forth in John's head.

“I wasn't straining to hear all of those thoughts that I was thinking to myself though. They were so loud that they had been almost deafening to me.”

John realized that it was the thoughts that disturbed him, his own disturbing thoughts.

Nothing outside of himself and within himself either, nothing at all, could ever really ever disturb him unless he attached a disturbing thought to it first. The thought comes first, not the experience or the event being a disturbing one.

What happens, just happens, in its way, but how you see it is what's happening then within you. Your own thoughts build you into who you currently are that is when you allow them to disturb and to disquiet your mind like that.

John sat for another five minutes before replying to the old man,

“Nothing disturbs me either, except for my thoughts, and now they will never disturb me again either”.

"Thank you old man,” John said, and he hopped up from the seat, and he walked home now, a new man now too.

"Calculation never made a hero."

So said the British priest, John Henry Newman, (1801 to 1890).

In reference to John here, we might say also, that, "Calculation never made a lover" either!

John had to stop thinking, and to start loving!

Thinking is hard work, especially if you make it harder, by trying to think your way through life without love.

John had tried to think his way to solutions to life. He had had lots of help, but none of this mattered. John had to listen to life with his heart. This is what this old man helped him to do.

This is what the old man did every day, when he sat on his park bench, waiting for people to come along to him for him to love. He loved them past their blockages. He showed them the way of no way.

Photo credits:

All photos used in this article have been freely sourced from the free media site, Wikimedia Commons.


Discontentment, Disturbing Thoughts, Embrace True Emptiness, Emptiness, Inner Emptiness, Mysterious Old Man, No Silence, Nothing Disturbs Me, Old Man, Old Man On The Bench, Short Stories, Short Story, Silence, Solutions To Life, Spiritual Searching

Meet the author

author avatar spirited
I have been interested in the spiritual fields for over thirty five years now. My writing is mostly in this area.

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author avatar M G Singh
12th Jun 2015 (#)

Nice and interesting

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author avatar spirited
12th Jun 2015 (#)

thanks Madan

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
12th Jun 2015 (#)

Thought provoking, thanks Spirited. We create our own misery.

For myself, I do my best and accept the results and not think further. Some can be alone, but never feel lonely. It is said our mind is like a monkey, keeps jumping about - siva

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author avatar spirited
12th Jun 2015 (#)

yes, thanks siva, I have heard that monkey reference before too, jumping and flitting around from one distraction to the next, from one idle thought to another.

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author avatar Carol Roach
12th Jun 2015 (#)

I am a deep thinker, I can't help it

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author avatar spirited
12th Jun 2015 (#)

This isn't really deep thinking though, it a way it's more about our letting shallow thoughts splash around the surface of our minds making waves so that you never then go any deeper than this.

Thanks Carol

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author avatar Retired
13th Jun 2015 (#)

Interesting story. My suggestion is try to show more and tell less. Writing becomes much more intense when you use body language to convey emotions.
For example, don't say ''John was a thinker''. Show that John is a thinker.
You can do this by showing John staring at something for a long while, or writing down his thoughts.

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author avatar spirited
13th Jun 2015 (#)

Thanks Mary,

you have some interesting ideas about writing. I read your article on tips for writers.

Every little bit of input like that adds to a writer's skills, by making them think about how they write.

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author avatar Retired
13th Jun 2015 (#)

Thank you spirited. What I am sharing with you, are tips I learned as a short story author myself from creative writing classes. If you are interested in learning more, you can visit the short story site I run with Deina Furth
You can also read the book ''Show Don't Tell'' by Robyn, Opie Parnell on Amazon

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author avatar Kingwell
15th Jun 2015 (#)

Interesting my friend. John is a lot like me, even to being the same age. I think that I am starting to understand a little better too. Blessings.

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author avatar spirited
15th Jun 2015 (#)

Thanks Kingwell,

He's a lot like me too!

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author avatar peachpurple
28th Jul 2015 (#)

very beautiful article, it reminds me of my late father in law very much

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author avatar spirited
28th Jul 2015 (#)

thanks, peachpurple

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