One of Johnny Cash’s most poignant songs is about being an addict and alone on Sunday morning.
“And there ain’t nothing short of dying’ As half as lonesome as the sound, Of a sleeping city sidewalk, and Sunday morning coming down.”
Yesterday morning I was sitting on a bench in the lovely Plaza de Armas, Chachapoyas, Peru. It’s a clean, safe park, filled with families, tourists, kids and sadl stray dogs looking for a handout. I was thinking about how the mountains and sky change throughout the day. At 7:40 am it’s quiet, and the clouds were so puffy and dense I might have been covered with a down comforter.
I was thinking about the poor dogs in every country that were domesticated and then forsaken when they weren’t needed, thinking about how grateful I am to be here-really, to be anywhere when so many of my friends and family have already passed on. Sitting on a park bench beckons one to reflect, observe, & frequently communicate with those who sit beside you. I love park benches. I seek them out wherever I am in the world.
At exactly 8 am church let out. Throngs of the devout poured into the park. Among them was a pathetic man wearing a filthy, brown, wool poncho. He headed straight for me. Still, I didn’t get up immediately. As he got closer I saw that his eyes were rummy, his mouth crusty, his head as if it had been greased. As he sat he mumbled something about cervesa. Of course he wanted a beer. I might have given him a couple of soles, but suddenly the stench of him made me gag. I jumped up and moved across the park.
From my new bench I noticed that the devout passed him as if he was invisible. Johnny’s song rang in my head. I thought maybe “somewhere this guy heard “a lonely bell ringing, echoing through the canyons, like disappearing dreams of yesterday.” Then again, maybe he just wanted a beer.