How We Regain Ourselves

Monica doesn’t like to rush in the morning.

She tells me this while sitting on a park bench. It’s a little after seven. The sky is full of light. The city is getting up. There is a low rumble that will build into a rush hour roar soon.

I have to be at work by eight, Monica says. She is a nanny for a family about a block away from the park bench.

But she gets up before the city does. She pulls her hair back tight and puts on a bright cardigan. She arrives in the neighborhood before she’s due and she has a seat on the park bench.

She might listen to music on her phone, make a call, or watch the rapid rush of bikers, joggers, dog walkers going by.

I see Monica here most mornings. You can’t miss her, this bit of unexpected stillness in the great morning churn.

We wave and smile, share a few words. After eight, her day will not be still. She will give her time over to the little one in the stroller and the bigger one – though little, still – walking alongside wanting crackers, her hand, her attention, her everything.

But before eight, she gives this time to herself.

And after I see her, I think that this is how we regain ourselves. Giving time back to ourselves to sit on park benches, if only for a few minutes, and watch the world spin.

So, I love that in the mornings there will be rapid rushes and great churns. And there will be the unexpected stillness of one woman on a park bench giving herself nothing but time.

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