On a Saturday morning, I was sitting in the nearby park in our neighborhood. It was especially lovely to do it at this time of the year. The birds start chanting after a winter-long silence, flowers spread their mesmerizing scents everywhere, and the wind sings operas of resurrection constantly in my ears. Many times, I stop in the middle of my walk and just feel the touch of the air-on my nose, on my cheeks. Then on my ears and in my hair, I feel it with every cell on my head. Then as I resume my walk, I sometimes contribute to the solo of a flutist cardinal or keep my breath while a locust sings its sonata. Yes, I do all these and feel the coming of spring as a yearly renovation in my soul.
Funny though, sometimes while walking in the enchantment of the awakening nature around me, I run into a tree, and I hug it as if I met a friend. You can imagine how entertaining I am to the passers-by.
It was one of those days when I felt the presence of a second person near me. Strange enough, though, he wasn't laughing at my hugging the tree.
"Hi fellow, what is wrong with you? Why aren't you laughing at this lunatic who is in love with trees instead of people?" I asked.
I was shocked upon hearing his answer:
"The sight of people is of no value to me because I cannot see the light coming from them. But you are certainly shining through your voice.
"For me, people shine through their presence; they change my heart beat."
I exhaled the air that was hiding in my lungs with anxiety, and teased: "So, I should be careful when I am talking to you since I cannot hide my true feelings from you!"
"You bet. But don't worry; your voice is giving me positive signals."
Then, I quickly returned: "I am happy to hear that. So, shall we play a game together?"
"Alright. Only by listening, we are going to try to predict the coming of the next person."
"I'll take your challenge," he said.
And, we kept silent in order not to miss the clues of an approaching person. Believe it or not, we waited for minutes and not a single person passed by. We could hear voices of kids running in the distance, wind rubbing the leaves, trunks of the trees squeaking as they swing, flies, birds flying or landing, etc., but not a single person passing by. Suddenly he said:
"Maybe we should play something else."
"You know what? You are the ever first person with whom I can play the game of solitude. We are together but not like cans on a shelf. We are together like two flowers smiling at each other although we cannot see or hear one another. Outsiders may think we are lonely. But in essence, we are hand in hand in the depths of our hearts."
"It is strange that you say this. Why should you enjoy solitude?" he asked.
I did not answer that question. Actually my silence was the answer; and I think, or hope, he got my answer. I didn't want my discovery of a solitude-mate to disappear so abrupt.
"Here comes one!" he exclaimed. I could feel his joy of catching the first person. I smiled; and he felt it because I give out a warm and vibrating breath when I smile.
"It is so alive," he said.
"What? The person?" I was startled. Why was he using "it" for a person?
"No, your smile. I don't feel many smiles like yours. I usually hear frozen laughs and smiles of mass-production, which carry no sincerity."
I was embarrassed by his compliment. Again I kept silent, but my face was burning up, and he felt that as well.
"Now you are as flushed as I was when we started talking."
"Yeah, what had happened to you? Why were you so flushed earlier?" I inquired.
"I climb this tree often. I actually do this whenever there is nice weather. Sometimes, I feel the footsteps of someone, whom I want to catch. I rush down to the ground hoping not to miss the encounter. But always, I miss the person. Now, that spirit is standing before me."
Once more, I was embarrassed. I didn't know what to say. We both kept silent for a while. Then, I heard my daughter calling: "Dad, it's time."
She was the one predicted by my solitude-mate.
"Forgive me for disturbing your conversation," she added.
"A conversation by presence cannot be disturbed by words," replied my friend. We all chuckled.
I felt my daughter pulling my arm – an authoritative sign meaning "let's go." I grasped her hand firmly, turned back to my solitude-mate, and gave a goodbye silence, and he did the same to me. Then I gave him that lively smile, and he went through that shower of heat. I picked up my cane and started knocking on his ears again as I returned home with my daughter as my guide.