The beauty deep within

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Today, I felt the need for solitude. So many times my focus is on what others may want or need. Women of my generation, in particular, have been taught to think of other’s desires before their own.

This unselfish character trait, while noble and lofty, can bring with it a loss of self if taken to the extreme. Balance can only be achieved by also listening to the voice within and doing things we love to do, just because.

I found my quiet, tranquil spot on a park bench near an old red caboose of the Southern Railway. Three wizened old oaks converge over my head sharing the precious shelter of their canopy. I breathe deeply and watch people passing by.

The rhythmic sound of children bouncing a ball on the asphalt in the distance permeates my thoughts. The sound of a lone fly buzzing here and there while looking for lunch wafts on the gentle breeze. A butterfly flits by as the wind ruffles the greenery on one of the old men’s low branches. They could be ladies I guess, but they appear to be old men with gnarly knuckles and weather roughened skin.

What number of people have shared my bench? The evidence is clear that Hallie was here as I read the graffiti left behind. Young lovers initials carved in the wood also give me a clue that this bench may have spied sweet stolen kisses.

My pleasant reverie is intruded upon by a car stopping nearby. As I look up, my eyes encounter a very large man wearing no shirt and a long, flowing beard. From my vantage point he looks as if he is totally nude, but surely that’s not the case. At any rate, he drives on to another part of the park, which does not bother me in the least.

Next, a small family converges on my spot. I overhear the dad say, “Let’s take a lunch break in this private little area I’ve found.” They leave quickly and are replaced by two other families. A sad smile flickers on my lips as I acknowledge that all the families seem in such a hurry. One dad began telling his kids it was time to go as soon as they arrived.

To my delight one lucky little boy named Rhett toddled contentedly around squashing bugs and chasing butterflies. This little family seemed in no hurry to leave. The wise father took time out of a cross-country trip to allow his three-year-old explorer an opportunity to feel the breeze, burn off some energy, and perhaps make a memory.

This tranquil and lovely place has undoubtedly given respite to many as they search for a brief interlude in the busyness of life. A refreshing blows through my spirit. The bees buzz contentedly; more beautiful butterflies dance on the wind whispering, “Look at me. Find joy in my loveliness.” I sit, breathe, and once more feel the beauty deep within.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at