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On being useful

Posted by Simon Parke, 08 November 2017, 5.34pm

I am in a seaside town in winter.

I walk along the seafront before the world wakes.

The seaside cafes are closed and quiet in the cold, but I notice a frosty table, which someone has forgotten to put away.

I know this table in summer.

It is busy and useful. People hover nearby, waiting to get a seat, waiting for someone to eat up and move on.

The table is in demand, holding tea and cakes, milk shakes and ice cream, servings of fish and chips.

Such glory!

But in the winter dawn, things are different.

The people have gone and the table is alone, sought after by no one and touched only by the frost.

It’s glistening and beautiful, but not useful….though I note a seagull alighting upon it for temporary rest, before returning to the chill currents of the sky.

I am drawn to the table this morning, it is trying to speak.

I sometimes feel the need to be useful. It makes me feel better about myself.

But it is not always the season, there is not always a queue, so I perhaps I force things.

I say to myself:  ‘I must be useful!’

When all the time, it’s enough, like the table, to be touched by beauty.

This morning on the seafront, this table is quite perfect.

It has nothing else to do.

Perhaps, just being touched by beauty, is the most useful I can be.

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