Just a Walk in the Park

A picnic in the park


This simple story is about a leisurely stroll through a park on a sunny afternoon, long ago. There are no fantastic surprises, feats of heroism or amazing twists of fate to describe—at least on the surface. The passage of time, however, turned this casual walk into a mystery. Like so many incidents in our lives, even the most mundane actions can lead to questions about what is real. A logical explanation may suggest itself, but how often are logical answers incorrect?


One cool, crisp day in early autumn when I was approximately eight years old, I accompanied Cathy, the nine-year old girl who lived next door, to a park near our homes. We swung on the swings for awhile, and later sat at a picnic table. A young man approached from the far end of the park. He was tall and thin with long hair, a moustache, and a small beard. He wore a red turtleneck sweater under his jacket. He slowly and cautiously approached us, staring as if he knew us. I noticed his interest and became a bit frightened. I wondered if he intended to harm us because he seemed so focused on our activities, but he never moved toward us—he simply stared with a puzzled expression. His steps were deliberate and he never came too close, obviously not wishing to appear menacing. Cathy said hello, and he smiled and softly returned the greeting. He continued to shake his head with a quizzical look as he passed, as if something about us confused him. Even after he passed he turned back to steal a quick glance at us once or twice before he finally left the park and headed west toward the street.


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The people and the mysteries

A stroll through the park
A stroll through the park
The kids in the park
The kids in the park
The adult in the park
The adult in the park
Is time linear?
Is time linear?

A walk in the park


Fast forward fifteen years:

One sunny afternoon I made my way through the park near my childhood home, heading toward the creek at its west end. Fall was my favorite time of year, and I enjoyed walking in the cool, crisp air. I was struggling with my painting and searching for inspiration. I hoped a walk in this mystique-rich part of East Lawrence would provide what I needed. As I approached the far end of the park I noticed two small children alone in the park sitting at a picnic table together. They were a young boy and girl, close to the same age, and it seemed odd to find them in the park without supervision. I reasoned that they lived nearby and probably could be monitored from their homes. They were totally at ease and seemed comfortable without the protection of adults. I guessed they played in the park a lot. The boy was small with blond hair—the girl was slightly larger and was probably a little older. She had dark eyes and brown hair cropped in a short haircut with bangs. The boy was far more fair-skinned than she was. Their clothes looked very dated, as if they were wearing outfits handed down from older brothers and sisters. They seemed comfortable together, not at all antagonistic as little boys and girls can sometimes be.

As I approached, my presence made them understandably nervous. I didn’t want to scare them, but they looked familiar and I hoped to get close enough to see if I might recognize who they were. When I was perhaps 15-20 feet from them, the girl offered a “hi” in acknowledgment of my presence. I said hello in response and kept walking. I was certain I knew those kids after I passed them, and I looked back several times in an effort to recall where I had seen them before. My backward glances further unnerved them, so I forced myself to face forward. When I arrived at the wooded area it felt uncomfortable to me—almost as if it were unfamiliar. Nothing seemed different, but it didn't feel right. I didn’t want to remain there but knew if I walked past the kids again so quickly it would spook them. I headed west toward the street and out of the park. My artistic inspiration would need to come from another source.


What happened--and why?


I never determined who the children were, but after a moment I realized why they seemed familiar to me. Those two kids looked very much like my neighbor Cathy and I might have as children. I remembered sitting in the park with Cathy years earlier when a young man walked past us. I was frightened by his presence, and Cathy said hello as he approached. It seemed as if I experienced the same moment in time twice. At the first opportunity, I telephoned my friend Brad and told him what happened. He embraced the fantastic casually and had no difficulty believing I experienced the same event twice as two different people—the child in the 60’s and the adult, fifteen years later. I wasn’t completely convinced, but since it was my own suggestion I couldn’t completely dismiss it.

What was the likelihood of encountering two children in the park that reminded me of myself and Cathy years ago, even to the point of dressing in outfits that seemed out-of-place and dated? Those kids looked so much like us as children it was astonishing. How probable was it that my clothes and facial hair were eerily similar to those of the person we encountered that afternoon in the park as kids? Perhaps more significantly, what did it mean if I experienced the same event twice? What happened? Was I trapped in a time loop and destined to walk through this park endlessly? Did the park seem unusual because I saw it as it was well over a decade ago? What time period did I inhabit at the moment I encountered “myself”—did I sit in the future as a child or walk through the park in the past as an adult? Did the park exist outside a normal time stream, allowing events to occur without the limitations of time as it is commonly perceived?  Will the child I saw as an adult wander through the park himself fifteen years later, only two encounter two eerily familiar kids enjoying a picnic? I even briefly wondered if I encountered my own ghost at different points in time. After all, there was no reason I knew of for a ghost to be bound by linear time or incapable of assuming more than one appearance. My ghost could have been in the park as an adult and a child, but what purpose might my own spirit have in revealing its presence to me?

To ignore the obvious answer that the two occurrences are unrelated means the event I have described is essentially without precedent; it cannot be categorized in any known context of human experience. It is unique and has no niche in which to fall, unless the unexplained is now sufficiently commonplace to be its own niche. If unexplainable mysteries can be accepted as a valid possibility, it seems feasible that I experienced this random event twice, but that raises still more questions I cannot answer; most obvious among them being how and why. My experiences couldn’t be rationalized by Einstein’s theories of time or Stephen Hawking’s arrow-like forward momentum explanations. Asking why this happened was even more baffling—if experiencing this event twice was possible, was it a random event or did it serve a purpose? Was there a reason I was meant to experience this incident from the perspective of two different points in time? Was there a significance that eluded me, no matter how often I pondered its meaning? In my recollection, the day was ordinary in every other way, both as a child and a young adult. Why, then, did this happen?

I have no means to provide the answers to these questions, then or now. I am forced to conclude that nothing unusual happened. Cathy and I probably saw a stranger walk past us in the park years ago. As an adult, I likely approached two small children having a picnic in the park together that reminded me of myself and my neighbor as children. That rationalization makes sense and keeps life tidy and orderly, even if I’m still not completely comfortable with it. I may be forced to accept the ordinary as a final explanation, but I can’t shake the feeling that something more did happen. I can’t let go of the idea that I was in that park twice, even if I can’t explain how or why.

I may never know what happened on the sunny fall afternoon, but I will always wonder if my stroll through the park was something far more significant than I could possibly fathom.


Comments 42 comments

LillyGrillzit profile image

LillyGrillzit 5 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

Eerie and strange...When I read the first paragraph, I was thinking about dimensions crossing, that the adult was an apparition. Interesting! Thank you for sharing.


ralwus 5 years ago

Attribute it to a 'time-fart' Mike. Cool story and told only as you can so well.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

It must be a wonderful experience while walking in the park. I thought you have a good story to remember. Thank you very much. ~prasetio


couturepopcafe profile image

couturepopcafe 5 years ago

You definately need to go back and see if you can observe the young man & the children! No suprises, indeed. I don't think so, friend.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

LillyGrillzit, thanks for reading. It was definitely a strange event. I also considered the possibility the adult was an apparition, and even wondered if I had seen my own ghost. I suspect I might be the first to ever say they saw their own ghost, and I don't think I want to consider the implications of what that might mean. Thanks again for stopping by, I appreciate your taking the time to read about my odd life. Take care.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Ralwus, thanks for reading. "Time-fart" sounds as accurate as any explanation I could come up with! (Must have been that outdated can of pork and beans....) I appreciate the kind words about my work. Have a good Sunday, my friend.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Prasetio, thanks for stopping by. Walking through the park certainly made for an interesting experience that day. I am glad you enjoyed my story. Take care.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Couturepopcafe, sometimes I've wondered whether I might see either the children or the adult if I picked a sunny autumn day to go back there. If I went back at the right time of day and year, might I find two children at a picnic table warily watching as a long-haired young man encountered them? I'm not sure what I would do if I DID see that, but it's an interesting scenario.

I might need to try that soon.....

Thanks for reading, I appreciate your stopping by. Take care.

Mike


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago

What a great story, Mike...and one well told. It's a sad situation that an adult in the park needs to be concerned about scaring children; though understandable. It's also interesting that as a child you were cautious about the adult, while Cathy wasn't. I wonder if the 2nd girl was, or the boy. Interesting. Thanks Mike.


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

Thanks for the very fascinating story, Mike. You have nothing to worry about unless like the boy in "Sixth Sense" you start to see dead people. And they talk to you. And you hear them. Then you might have a small problem.


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 5 years ago from London, UK

Very interesting Mike. It's sort of like Deja Vu. I enjoy reading these stories when you write them. (I still remember the Hub about the old man you met on a plane)

Best Wishes. :)


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 5 years ago from I'm outta here

Is there something there you should go back to witness once more, to take more in, to see it with a view of truth as in okay this is real, happening and means something, what is the message. Should I keep an eye keen to the next moments in time looking forward to the relationship with the past and present. Your a delight to read. Thanks for the thought provoking moment, will it go with me and alter what I encounter?


coffeesnob 5 years ago

Mike,

There is no "mere" stroll in the park. Every thing we do is moving toward a mark. For me, as you know, I tend to see everything with an ultimate eternal purpose. I had to wonder if there was something that was stirred in you as a child that just circled back around again for that ultimate eternal perspective. the mind is an incredible thing and can calculate in a moment those things that we internalize and I beleive God uses this wonderful brain of ours to get us thinking eternally. Don't know for sure if this is what was happening but think about it..the whole idea of strangers approaching children and the fear, and/or the interest in the stranger burns a memory within, but it makes us want to get close to our father. and one day as we are our for a stroll (or so we think it's a mere stroll) God takes us on a path that recreates a moment in time that is embedded within and uses it to stir us and maybe cause us to look to Him again as a child...

Hmmmm...not sure if I got carried away here -but hey who knows...

blessings, Mike

CS


poetvix profile image

poetvix 5 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

Mike, I have not a clue as to what was going on, but I do know that the way you told it was riveting. Perhaps you are not done yet w/ that particular point in time, or place, and shall again return to it at which point it may make more sense to you.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Kimh, thanks for reading. You are correct, it is sad that an adult should be wary of frightening children playing in a park. It's for the best that kids be cautious, of course, but they shouldn't have to be afraid. I also think Cathy was less frightened simply because she was a little older--a year can make a lot of difference at that age. I guess it was lucky that with whatever went on in the park that day, at least we didn't have to be afraid of each other.

Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your insights. Take care.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Drbj, so far it hasn't come to that, and I'm grateful. As weird as my life has been, its weirdness has been confined to individual moments. I've not had to deal with some strange circumstance every waking moment. If I start seeing, hearing or talking with dead people, I'll just--well, I don't know what I'll do. Hopefully it won't come to that. Thanks for stopping by, I always appreciate your comments. Hope your weekend was a good one.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Elena, thanks for stopping by. I am pleased that you enjoy my tales from younger days. (I went back and re-read the airplane story a few days ago... life sure has been weird). Thanks again for reading. I hope you have a great week.

Mike


Allan Douglas profile image

Allan Douglas 5 years ago from Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

Great tale Mike! I like to think that time is not strictly linear, marching on in one fixed direction. Perhaps this was like a river that sometimes cuts a new channel and loops back upon itself for a while. Whatever happend or how, it made for a great story, masterfully told. Thanks For sharing.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Katie, thanks for stopping by. I have also wondered if there would be anything to gain by going back to that park. I've also wondered if it would help to recreate the circumstances as best I can, or if that would be irrelevant--for example, should I look for a sunny, cool afternoon in fall? I wish there were some guidelines to follow, but of course there are not. And, I've definitely wondered about the meaning of an event like this. Was it random, or was there something specific to witness? If I experienced this again with a new(er) perspective, would I possess the awareness and insight required to understand the purpose of such an event? It boggles the mind to think about.

Thank you for the insights and the kind words, I appreciate them tremendously. Take care.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

CS, thanks so very much for your insights. I am most appreciative. I have searched for a meaning to any interpretation of this event, and yours is certainly worth consideration. Perhaps it was necessary to experience this moment more than once and from multiple viewpoints to gain an eternal perspective. If so, I am grateful for the opportunity, even if I am uncertain on a conscious level what I learned. It is incredibly easy for me to believe that I was meant to experience this event more than once, and that there were lessons to be learned from it.

Thanks again for your opinions and insights, CM--I will return to them when my mind is fresher and more alert. I am greatly appreciative.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Poetvix, thanks for reading. Perhaps I am not done there. If both the boy and the man were me, an obvious question becomes: did the boy I see as a young man wander through the park himself fifteen years later, only to happen upon another young boy and girl? Will the cycle repeat itself endlessly, or is there an action to be taken that resolves it? The possibilities are intriguing.

Thanks again for your comments. Take care.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Allan, thanks for reading. I also tend to see time as a non-linear force, and I have always believed a true understanding of a non-linear time would do much to reconcile free choice with an all-seeing God. In this instance, time seemingly led me back to an incident previously experienced, and there may or may not have been a reason for it. It was, however, a unique experience. I am grateful for your comments and insights. Thanks so much.

Mike


H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 5 years ago from Lone Star State

You tell these stories so well...loved this hub, kept me reading and anticipating the next line. How creepy that would be...kind of gives me shivers.

Rated Up and Awesome.


SilentReed profile image

SilentReed 5 years ago from Philippines

Some call it Deja Vu. But for a logical explanation sometimes the obvious is the correct one. Out of a multitude of random events we or rather our mind's "eye" pick those which are significant or have left an indelible impression in our mind.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines

Wow, that is some story - strange and eerie and wonderfully written! It really makes you think of it's meaning. I guess we will never know.

Thanks for sharing Mike!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

HC, thanks for stopping by. It was a very eerie situation, and while it is easy to say those were just two kids, they sure looked like my neighbor and me. It still makes me wonder what happened, which seems to be the story of my life in a lot of ways--always asking myself, "what just happened there?"

Thanks again for reading, I am always appreciative when you stop by. Take care.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

SilentReed, thanks for stopping by and offering your insight. Sometimes the obvious answer is the correct one, but other times the pieces don't quite fit into a logical or tidy explanation, and that's when things get truly strange. I am willing to admit that those kids likely had nothing whatsoever to do with me, but am I 100% convinced? No, I don't think I am. Whether it was deja vu or something else, it was certainly a bizarre experience.

Thanks so much for your comments, I am appreciative.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Jill, thanks for reading. I suppose I will never know what that experience really was or what it meant, but I will always wonder--that much is certain. I appreciate your taking the time to read this bizarre little tale, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Take care.

Mike


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa

Strange but true. Perhaps the answer lies in quantum psychics. This is a perfect theme for a novel! Voted UP!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Martie, thanks for your comments. If the answer is in quantum physics, then it is certainly out of my league. I agree that there would be an interesting novel to be written from this, however. Maybe someday I will get the chance. Thanks so much for reading and voting up. Take care.

Mike


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

Whether it was deja vu, a time warp, or a simple unrelated happenstance, it surely makes one think. You would be an excellent science fiction writer! I truly think that most of what is science fiction ultimately comes to pass. Is it that the writers have some pre-knowledge of events built into their DNA?


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Peggy, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your kind words about my writing skills. It seems to me as well that most science fiction eventually becomes science fact. Perhaps writers do have some type of ability to see future events, or perhaps it is simply that anything is possible.

BTW, there was an episode of the television series 'Supernatural' where Sam and Dean found everything they had gone through was written in a series of novels. They contacted the writer and learned he was a 'prophet' whose visions came true. I'm not saying science fiction writers are angels or prophets, but it was an intriguing and entertaining story.

Thanks again for reading, Peggy. Have a great Sunday.

Mike


Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 5 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

Very cool Mike, obviously with all the comments, lots can connect with you. I've had a similar but different experience (not as much of a paradigm twist as yours) but involving a strange twist on questioning the reality/ethereal quality of a possible family member. Thanks for sharing this curious walk, and I am with you and the fantastic!!!

"He embraced the fantastic casually and had no difficulty believing I experienced the same event twice as two different people"

Well done,

Ben


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Ben, thanks for stopping by and commenting. If you had something similar to this happen to you at some point, I hope perhaps someday you will share the experience. It sounds like it might be quite interesting.

Thanks for the kind words, my friend.

Mike


pmccray profile image

pmccray 5 years ago from Utah

Interesting story Mike L. Voted up, marked awesome and beautiful. Meanderings of the mind can lead to the off chance of remembrances in another time or another dimension.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

pmccray, thanks for stopping by. There seems indications of worlds within worlds, where one might find time to be non-linear or places where realities overlap. I will confess to believing until something has been proven impossible, rather than the other way around. Who knows who or what I might see tomorrow?

Thanks again for stopping by.

Mike


saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 5 years ago

Mike it seems that the paranormal happenings follow you around like Ground Hog Day. Kidding apart though, I have felt the same feelings and I know I have witnessed an event that I saw in the exact same manner, I would leave the scene shaking my head, and asking myself, how can this be happening.

Was I in another dimension? did I cross through the thin vail an enter that dimension? It was puzzling at the time. I truly believe we see our own ghost or could it be they see us through this vail.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Saddlerider, you are absolutely correct: my life seems to be filled with weird moments, although not so much in the last decade. There is actually something interesting just in the realization that my life has been relatively normal for awhile. I have tried to look for "normal" explanations whenever I could, but sometimes that just isn't very easy.

I have wondered as well if it is possible to see our own ghost. If time is not linear, we could easily be "alive" and "dead" at the same time. In an odd way it could explain reincarnation, as well. If only I could discern the nature of time, space and figure all this out. I suspect that isn't going to happen anytime soon, however.

Thanks again for stopping by, and I would love to hear your own similar story. Take care.

Mike


Steele Fields profile image

Steele Fields 5 years ago from drexel hill,pa

I'm not sure what happened to you but I know I like reading your stuff. You are very a very clean and economical writer who is a pleasure to read. Thanks for a cool story.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Steele, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your kind words about my writing style. I'm not sure what happened either, but it made for an interesting day and a very strange memory at least. Thanks again.

Mike


kimberlyslyrics 5 years ago

Hello Mike, these moments I believe happen only to people with a 7th sense if you will. Not someone looking for behaviours, just someone open to them, and not judging them.

Knowing you as I do, I feel this absolutely demonstrated your character very well.

Like the guy who observes, absorbs, and receives all things as they are presented.

You are so special Mike. Its such a privilege to follow you.

Hope you are well.

kimberly


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Kim, thank you for both your kind words, and for the non-judgmental way in which you view the events I have written about, both here and on other pages. I have described many "non-ordinary" events that have occurred in my life--so many that some folks might believe I have lost my mind. I have had a life filled with strange events, and while I will always look for a normal, mundane explanation for them, I will also accept a different interpretation if the mundane is inadequate. I am always open to the new and the unexplained, and I believe you are, as well. Thanks for sharing in the fantastic with me here. The privilege is all mine.

Mike

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