From Harbor Island, it’s easy to spot planes taking off and landing at San Diego International Airport. Just across the Harbor on North Island, helicopters of the United States Navy buzz among the excitement of a busy aircraft carrier. In the same water that spills onto the rocks of Harbor Island, are United States Coast Guard boats, speeding towards the Coast Guard Station, leaving frothy bubbles behind. Cruise ships snail out to sea, leaving a busy downtown. Cars zoom by, joggers’ shoes pound the pavement like a strong heart beat, hand-in-hand couples walk through intimate conversations, and the wind rushes through so that the blades of grass bow and the trees wave. It might be said of Harbor Island, that it epitomizes movement. Constant motion is no special attribute in a fast-paced world. But, among the planes and helicopter, among the boats and ships, among the cars and joggers and walkers and winds and waves, is my bench.
This place of solitude has rested motionless for years. When I sit down on that bench, the world still moves quickly and decisions still have to made, but, it’s like blinking, where both darkness and light exist behind my eyelids.
The bench’s wooden slats are worn with thoughts, many of which are filled with potential, while others are desperate and mournful. This bench may not look like anything special, but I’ve driven over five hours just to sit on it, looking for the guidance it always promises. My bench doesn’t just give me insight to the future, but it reminds me of where I’ve been because it has remained unchanged. It’s easy to see how fast the world is moving; a view from my bench captures a million dollar shot of downtown San Diego where new sky-rises settle old scores. All this movement has taken people to and from these waters, built new buildings, torn old ones down. Sitting on this bench, I’ve seen things change all around me, and I have also changed.
The first time I sat down on my bench, I was a freshman in high school, looking out at a big world that offered me inexhaustible opportunities. My bench was a bench of hope and limitlessness. I would sit on my bench many times during high school, but the most significant time during those years was when I was graduating and trying to decide the next chapter of my life. From my vantage point on the bench, I was exposed to the workings of the US Coast Guard, and was inspired to join. My four year stint with the Coast Guard allowed me several chances to visit my bench. It also provided me with an opposite perspective; watching my bench as we’d sail out, gave me a sense of change. Thoughts truly create reality because it was that bench that got me on that ship.
After the Coast Guard, I returned to my bench, looking for clarity on where to step next. Hoping to find the answer embedded in its support, I saw the Navy helicopters circling above. While I can’t say the bench alone took me down that road, sitting there, watching the choppers, I was reminded of my passion for flying; I decided to get my helicopter license and pursue flying.
The view from the bench is a snow globe of my life. The sightline from the bench transcends the horizon. From this bench I have been able to see many places from many different perspectives. I have seen the world from the sea, under the sea, and above the clouds. Each journey was planted there, at the site of an ordinary bench.
Certainly there have been many times when I sought out my bench in order to resolve a relationship. Being on that bench has always inspired me to make a decision. Conversely, even when I have no decisions to make, being at my bench, something within me sparks. I find I am more creative and more is at stake than before I arrived.
It’s been interesting having this place of solace far from my home. Ironically a bench was designed for the sole purpose to sit on. This bench has done the opposite, and has inspired me to get up off the bench. I am not sure where my life will go next but I am sure the bench will continue to guide me there.