It is a local lake park where I go at least once a week to recharge. A place where I can step off the merry-go-round of the world around me. It is a beautiful spot with a lake surrounded by trees with some ducks, squirrels, and geese as its residents. It has fishing piers and a decorative water fountain in the middle of the lake. I look forward to these visits where I can take a long walk and reflect upon whatever comes to mind while being amidst God’s creation.
I get a good bargain by going to my recharging place. Three for one. My physical body gets exercise, my mental gets some of the cobwebs cleared in my brain, and my spiritual gets prayer time and meditation. My prayer time is just telling the Lord what He already knows such as the sweet and sour of the past week, the people whose paths I crossed and their stories, and what I can improve on (never a shortage on that).
Since I have been going there once a week for the last year or so, I am familiar at the sight of a few who are park regulars. One of them is a silver-haired tall gentleman who walks with a cane and is always accompanied by his scottish terrier. When I go to the park, I keep an eye out for him since he’s as much a familiar sight as the water fountain.
The last time I was there, I heard someone say “hello” and I turned and there he was using his cane to wave hello at me. I waved and yelled hello back. I felt warm inside that he had sought my attention. It was good to see a familiar face in a familiar place.
Later, I saw him sitting on a park bench with his dog. The urge in my heart was to walk over and speak to him. My heart rate picked up speed as I weighed the pros and cons. I came up with excuses such as he probably prefers to be by himself or I wouldn’t know what to say. Usually, I buy into the excuses but not that day. I took a chance and slowly made my way over to where he was sitting.
If he hadn’t been a familiar face, I wouldn’t have dared made the effort. Not in a million years! Just as I was getting close to his bench, I could hear him talking to his dog about the lack of squirrels wandering the park. I chuckled inside thinking that talking to a dog was something I would do if I had one. In fact, if the nice man had ever observed me walking, he knew I mumbled to only myself as I hiked along in the park.
Before I could get a word out, he spoke first which put me more at ease. The conversation flowed as smoothly as the ripples in the lake. I learned how he and his scottish terrier first met through his wife and how come he came to give his dog the name of Rudy. We talked about the nice Texas warm weather and how we both knew what it was to live somewhere else where snow wasn’t unusual. His cell phone rang and I took that as a signal to end the conversation. Sometimes it isn’t knowing how to start a conversation that’s so hard; it is knowing how to end one.
I walked away with my batteries EXTRA charged. I got a “bonus” in the park that day. I accepted and took on a “social” challenge and achieved my goal. I know striking up a conversation with a familiar face might be simple to a lot of folks, but not for me who lives on the autism spectrum. It was more like a climb up Mount Everest.