"Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another."
He was across the street from me when I slowed my pace to a stop. Something about the scene had caught hold of me. The man, perhaps in his early seventies, was sitting on a curb outside of a self-serve car wash lot, but not a car in sight. He sat under the warm glow of an orange lamp that buzzed with a frigid desperation, and I watched him through the steam of my breath against the cold.
He had on a dark winter peacoat, tuque, blue jeans, and big bulky black boots, yet no gloves. One hand held a cigarette just before his lips while the other arm hugged his knee. He sat slightly reclined as if in thought with no concern for time. I watched the smoke from his cigarette slowly spiral up, almost held in still by the cold winter air. What was he thinking of, or waiting for, I wondered.
I should have gone to speak with him, but I was frozen in my observation. The scene felt sad, but free with a poetic adornment about it. Not a give up, but rather a letting go. There was no observable tension in the scene despite the temperature.
His movements were as slow as the unhurried smoke. I stood mesmerized while imagining his tales of love, loss, and adventures over his years. That’s all I can do now. Just imagine. A moment lost is gone forever. Maybe that was his moment though, and my lesson.