The Astronomer and the homeless gentleman.

Jessica and I are enjoying a much needed break from the grind of everyday life.

As I was walking to move our car just a few minutes ago (I'll explain the paranoia in a moment), I thought about making a note to self. All of the static that seems like a big deal really isn't. It is overload. Over-stimulation. And I have often convinced myself that I am above it. That my stress and anger could not be the product of anything but worthy stimulation.

Even as I enjoy some quiet time over the last few days - I have not been able to completely disconnect. I spent 15 minutes on the phone with my assistant before dinner fussing over the filing of a witness list in a Federal case. But admittedly, it just doesn't seem real important from here. For that, distance is good.

Oh yeah, they will tow your car here. To the tune of $200. Just in case you were thinking of parking in a "bus" lane in Montreal - whatever the hell that is.

After a great Polish dinner, I took a seat at a bench in a park about a block from where we are staying. As I sat there, I saw a short older gentleman with a small telescope standing near the street. He was flagging down passersby and offering them a view. Gratis. My initial thought was that I would love to take a look, but assumed that he expected a dollar in return (we have learned that novelties on streets are not always expecting payment - such as the time when, in our drinking days, Jessica posed with an albino python in New Orleans - the day before Katrina made landfall, no less. The owner of the snake looked surprised when I gave him a few dollars, and I overheard him tell a friend as he walked away that he had found a great money making possibility). But as I watched the man with the telescope, a smile crept on my face. I realized he was not looking for payment - he was simply, and excitedly, sharing. After a few minutes, a homeless man approached. And the short gentleman was just as gracious in letting him look and giving very enthusiastic explanations in French as he had with the others. And the homeless man graciously expressed his thanks before walking away. Watching them somehow gave me a little bit of faith in humanity.

When Jessica caught up with me at the bench, I walked over and took a look at Jupiter and four moons and talked for a few minutes. He picked up a textbook from the ground and told us a little about Galileo and his first telescopes. It was a charming encounter. And I walked away from that man with a smile stretching from ear to ear.

It is wonderful to see kindness and excitement. Even more wonderful to see them simultaneously. I am grateful that the divine knew I was about to crack - and sent me on a trip with my wife to find a novice astronomer in a park. Au revoir.


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