The voice of the Bench

Does pain turn to fuel? Is it the source of power? We run away from pain and misery and aim for comfort, pleasure, and happiness, but isn’t pain one of the masters of refinement and empowerment? That deep, emotional, and groundbreaking pain that shakes you to the core and spins you uncontrollably…

Last night I went out with a friend to the Sea garden. We sat on our favorite bench next to the statue of Pushkin and under the street lights, we drank some beer and listened to Queen and Michael Jackson. People passed by us. I sang to the tunes and danced modestly to the beats… We did something simple, but not so common for the area: Two girls, sitting on a bench in the park, listening to music, that almost no one listens to anymore, drinking light beer at 10:00 p.m. on a Sunday… We wondered who would notice the songs and if our uncommon bench party would be acknowledged by anyone at all. We found it to be a fun experiment.

I was sure that whoever notices us would be in great pain… Happiness and comfort, even in the most modestly epicurean form, just aren’t the source of becoming aware of what happens around or what lies beyond. Because if you are satisfied, what would make you notice anything else other than your satisfaction? Eating a lot makes you sleepy. And if nothing has brought you to a shape-shifting catharsis, what would be the reason to take a look, or Universe forbid, step outside of the box?

“Man in the Mirror” was playing as a guy with a beer bottle walked by and said “Cheers girls”. He liked the song, and that he met someone who is listening to it at this hour, in this place. He said “good night” and walked away… I was deeply sure it wasn’t the end of our conversation. So I talked about him to my friend. I said to her: “See, for the past few hours, one guy has noticed our simple but unusual for this area, Bench party with Queen and Michael Jackson. Awesomeness!”

In a couple of minutes, he came back and asked us to play a song that he had on his phone: “The Voice” by John Farnham. He sat on the ground next to our bench…

“Do you know how old I am?” He began.

We didn’t say anything, waiting for him to tell us…

“I’m 22.” He continued… “Today I buried both of my parents… This is my mum’s phone and this is the first song in her playlist.”

“The Voice” is an old hit and was quite a suitable soundtrack for our magical encounter. So I found his song on YouTube and we played it. He said he’s sorry if he’s bothering or burdening us.

“Poor boy…” A vision of a little part of me said and cried a bit while sitting alone on the seashore of my mind. I felt Death around us, but for the first time, I remained calm and looked completely neutral to the stranger’s pain, even though inside I was very emotional. Without much effort I remained as natural and content, as I could be. I felt I was doing the best for him this way and so I talked to him with a calming voice and underneath the simple words we exchanged, there was a flow of inexplainable energy streaming. At this time my friend was quiet and empathetic as she too knew this kind of pain all too well… The young guy opened up.

“Life goes on,” he said.

“How did they die?” I asked although I assumed it is a car crash because both have died at the same time.

“Car crash,” he said, confirming my assumption. “I had a small operation and a few scratches.” He continued…

“Well, there is a reason for that, you know, make the most of it,” I said.

After that, he said he got into a fight with a guy and was arrested for it…

“It was like four people came into me…” he said.

Oh, I knew very well what he was talking about but I chose not to continue this conversation… I just said that aggression might not be exactly his answer. I told him to take all the pain in and integrate it… The song was over, he bid us a good night again and continued on his way… His last words to us were: “I’ll have at least 10 kids…” A vision of Screaming Jay Hawkins appeared in my mind… And somehow I saw some universal irony right there…

You see, Death has been my companion for a long, long time… We know each other well. Death comforts me sometimes, puts a cold blanket made of its breath on me that heats me, and gives me the empowering feeling and knowledge that this is all temporary like a flick. But Death’s comfort is not without a price. It started sweeping people from my life when I was very young. It flew like a raptor in the distance and rarely came near me. It grabbed its prey in its claws and flew at the speed of darkness. However, I’ve always felt the connection between us. Well, friendships require trust, loyalty, and honesty, but also exchange… Death has been closer to me this year than in the past few. It took away a dear friend and brought me strangers who dealt with the passing away of parents minutes or hours apart from when Death had flown low over their safe ground. Death is still close… But I’m starting to deeply understand now…

2018

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