Yesterday I observed a colleague's teaching. She remained inside the classroom to talk with a student after class, so I waited outside until her conversation was finished. For five minutes, I sat on this bench.
Perhaps it seems unremarkable, this simple act of idling time while sitting on a bench, but it struck me as significant for one reason:
For five minutes, I sat. That's it. I didn't use the time to check my email. I didn't try to squeeze in the grading of one additional assignment. I didn't open my wallet to organize my receipts.
I just sat on a bench.
During that time, I noticed a pattern of door holding and thank you's as students exited an adjacent classroom. I noticed the dried residue from weeks of winter's slush and salt on the tiled floor. I noticed how the student sitting beside me drew his hood over his face and leaned against the wall to grab a few minutes of restless sleep before his next class.
For whatever reason, this five minutes of quiet observation was cathartic, a purposeful choice to slow down in the midst of a schedule where I'm perpetually on duty with something to do, someone to care for, or somewhere to be.
We need more time to sit on benches.