My Stranger

I am a student at Brigham Young University, and love to create through the medium of writing! Short and creative styles are currently my forte.

Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Creative Nonfiction
I was sitting in a public square in Athens, when I saw something that Intrigued me. A young man, not five meters away from me, who also sat on a smooth bench of stone, was happily chewing on a gyro that he had purchased. There were many people walking to and fro in that square, but this man seemed still and content as he surveyed the pigeons bobbing along the cobble stones. What caught my attention was his pleasure as he started feeding the pigeons around his bench. Now, anyone who has thrown food to any kind of domestic bird will guess the result of this action. Pigeons started swarming to their new-found giver. As this man fed them, he sort of laughed to himself; with that happy kind of laugh that follows true enjoyment.

At this time, I was sitting there watching people shuffle about, trying to catch some bus or other to expedite their next adventure. But as I saw the simple joy of this man feeding the birds, I felt the rapid world around me slow just a little for him. I thought I was the only one who did that, I said within myself, taking time to feed some clumsy pigeons, and enjoying it too. Upon this thought I felt a deep respect for this stranger across the paved walkway. Coming to the end of his lunch, the young man considered the last bite in the folds of paper, then smiling again, threw it to his waiting entourage. Shortly after this, my stranger stood up and plotted along his way, wherever that may have been. I was left with a delighted feeling at the funny occurrence and had a desire to do as the man had done. And why not? I mused; I’ve always enjoyed feeding the birds.

Later that day, after happily feeding a considerable flock of pigeons, I thought about the encounter. What was it about that man that made me stop, made me feel connected to him, made me want to claim him as a friend I didn’t know, made me do as he did? I considered this for a while, before realizing something. Nothing. That’s what he did, absolutely nothing. He hadn’t asked for attention, hadn’t been busy or trying to seem important, he had just been content, he had been...peaceful.

This was when I realized how powerful peace is when you hold still long enough to watch it in action. I also realized how contagious it can be. As my stranger took time to enjoy the simplicities of life, I felt prompted to do the same. I felt less silly for stopping my walks to look at sunlight dancing through the leaves of trees, or taking longer than is standard to start college, or generally feeling slower than the world around me. What price would I pay for peace? The world is sprinting, trying to win a race for peace; oh, how mistaken they are! If they could only stop to realize that peace is not an accomplishment, it’s an awareness.