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Friday, August 29, 2008

. swinging . in . the . sunshine .

I love to walk down to the Santa Monica boardwalk and people watch. Earlier this week I spotted something that I will remember for a long time. It was an unusual sight, and as I stopped in my tracks, I found myself staring just to take it all in.

It was a homeless man. But not on a bench where you'd usually expect. He was on a swing set, with his whole world (consisting entirely of one torn suitcase, a sleeping bag that probably hadn't been washed in a year, and a few plastic bags full of bottles and soda cans) laying in the sand next to him. But the man wasn't just sitting and resting on the swing, he was actually swinging. He looked like a 7 year old child, pumping his legs and soaring into the air with satisfaction.

The man seemed wise and as if he knew something that the rest of us wouldn't be able to understand even if we tried. His life has to be most often cold and lonely, his journey unadorned and uncertain, but in this moment, he was smiling and laughing, and everything in the world seemed ok.

I don't know what led this man to the swing set. Maybe boredom or drunkenness or old childhood memories or perhaps it was just a way to take a break from the weight of the world. But whatever the case, he was undeniably happy and carefree, swinging in the sunshine. He probably had no good idea of where he was headed, and he may not have known when his next meal would be or where he would sleep for the night, but in that moment nothing else mattered because he was flying.