On warm and sunny days I find myself taking a stroll on Stow Lake at the park. During these walks I began noticing a regular, an older gentleman, with an open and friendly spirit.
On one of my walks, he smiled my way and said “good morning young lady have a beautiful day.” I returned this kind gesture with a smile. His name is James and he has been walking around Stow Lake for nearly eleven years.
James has a special interaction with the other walking regulars ranging from all ages and all walks of life. On this morning, James and I walked around Stow Lake twice and we were engaged in a rich conversation about life and death.
Nearly 14 years ago, James had brain surgery and during his surgery they discovered he had a dying heart. After months of searching, they located a heart for him. The heart came from a 29 year old fireman who died during a fire rescue. James’ recovery was one of contemplation and a renewed sense of enthusiasm for life.
At 64, James brings a mystical light to the step of every regular walker and the “drop in walker” as he puts it at Stow Lake. I am a witness to this man’s gift.
He greets from a place of serenity, he tells a joke from the gut, he speaks with an echo of wisdom, and he walks around the lake with purpose. I leave his company with a sense of appreciation and value of the gift of connecting with others in conversation.
“We need each other… to laugh with… to talk with … and to walk with…” -James