Think of a bench you know. Just a bench, a regular bench – just made of some planks of wood and a few rusty nails. Picture this bench that you see every day, on your way to work or the supermarket, and never think about twice. And now, indulge me for a moment, and really think about it. There is life in that bench.
A thousand people have sat on that bench. Hundreds have put their arms around the back of it, or perched on the edge of it, or lay down upon it. So many have stopped to tie their shoes there, or put down their grocery bags on it for a moment, or even walked along on top it for fun.
This bench, this commonplace, every day object has witnessed so much: Old men sitting on it and schmoozing for hours, watching the world go by; Old women putting down their purses on it and waiting there for the bus into town; Children have walked on it, holding their parents’ hands and squealing, feeling so high up; Those same children, years later, sitting on it and fervently passing a cigarette around late at night, feeling naughty; The homeless have made homes of it; The drunkards have made beds of it; The mad have had conversations with it; The weather has, of course, never shown it one bit of mercy.
This bench has probably encountered more people than we will speak to in a lifetime. This bench, in a way, has held more life than we will ever know upon its rickety wooden planks, carved and scratched and scarred as they are, holding the memories of hundreds upon hundreds. This bench is more alive and full of memory and experience than we will ever be able to comprehend.