I once knew an old wise man who helped more people than I could ever add up.
His life was simple, he preferred it that way. He wanted no baggage to slow him down in his pursuit of helping others. He’d long ago made a commitment to be in service and add more peace in this world and he allowed nothing to get in the way.
During his life, he developed certain rhythms that his day revolved around— he walked the same way to work, stopped at the same coffee shop, sat on the same bench in the park.
He occasionally ventured into new surrounding but he was quite content with his usual patterns…. the repetition was a form of mindfulness and spiritual practice, teaching him how to look further into a moment and a scene.
His work was talking to people— helping them to navigate thru this life and find effective ways to live and love and achieve happiness.
To master his craft, he used his park bench to observe how humans interact.
He became obsessed with noticing what happiness, sadness, anger and joy really look like, how people express it.
Over time, he developed a keen awareness to the range of emotions people experience. He watched intently what worked and what didn’t…. he watched how lovers love and haters hate.
People from all over came to see him, his park bench wisdom grew a reputation among the struggling.
As the years added up, he couldn’t keep up the pace—his days got shorter while the line got longer.
I showed up at his door one day wanting to know what the old man’s secret was, why were so many people touched by his wisdom… I’d felt it too and wanted to help spread the word.
I asked a thousand questions.
I often struggled to let him answer. He talked so slow and deliberate and I was worried time was running out.
We sat in the same booth at the same little Diner every Tuesday morning and over two years time and a lot of scrambled eggs he shared with me wisdom from 80+ years of an incredible life.
One day near the end, I asked him to summarize his Park bench experiences and the core lesson he taught people:
“I sat many days on that park bench. I watched intently as people interacted with one another and I observed a pattern. Lovers were always close to one another—as if their hearts somehow touched, held hands. They would communicate but often with something far more intimate than words—it’s as if the heart connection between them allowed everything else to flow smoothly.”
“People in disagreement, fighting and screaming and debating each other had their hearts far apart—they would try so hard to get the other person to hear them, to agree, to acknowledge their point of view but it never worked. Eventually they would give up and go silent. In the silence, the walls would come down and I would observe their hearts re-aligning, forming a union again and once that happened, they were able to peacefully and deliberately work everything out.
“I realized that all conflict in the world could be resolved by us first aligning our hearts… coming together and remembering the humanity and commonality within each of us.. the sacred bond that we all have, the fact that we are all dependent on the same breath, the same food, the same basic needs for survival and the same overwhelming feeling of being loved. Once we have that awareness, anything else is possible….
“For all these years, all these people who come see me, all I do is help them re-align their hearts with one another and then leave them alone to work everything else out.
Love’s always the solution….”
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