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A MAGPIE STANDS ITS GROUND EVEN AS I pass within a foot of the table he’s perched upon – the very table I want to sit at.

Instead, I choose the next table. It’s not bad here; a tree to my right provides cool shade in one of my favourite Calgary parks. I set out my note-book and pen, ready to write what I observe and imagine, an exercise to help me be present in the moment.

Across the way, a middle-aged man sets down his groceries, pulls out a cigarette and lights it up. He sits and looks up to the sky while taking a long, slow drag. I wonder if he stops here often – a break of sorts before heading home.

A young boy rides his bike around the park while his watching mother, seated on a bench chats on her phone. He stops to say hi to me, beaming with an ear-to-ear grin. Moments later, he crashes and mom comes running to help him up, comfort him and convince him to get back on his bike.

Across the way, the smoking man glances my way. His hands on his knees, his brows knit together when we make eye contact and he turns away, seemingly in deep thought. Perhaps like me, he’s wondering where the time has gone; when did he get so old.

A boy and a man divided by decades in age.

Is either one aware that now is all there is?

That longing for the past or being anxious about the future robs them of this moment potentially ripe with joy? 

That they would be wise, as would I, to breathe deep this moment and give thanks?