Written by Esi Han, Cross – Cultural coach/ editorial writer of The Korea Post
Whenever the pace of the world becomes too overwhelming, I find solace in sitting on a bench in the park. As if seeking wisdom from the past, I close my eyes and engage in a conversation with myself. Europe, with all its strangeness, felt like home to me when I went backpacking traveling.
Most of my fondest memories as a stranger comfortably wandering around the city took place on the bench. At that time, the well-maintained parks of Europe, with benches placed everywhere, provided a much-needed respite where I could satisfy my hunger with baguette bread and rest my tired legs.
More importantly, I was able to connect with locals naturally and share stories about their lives, which were more valuable to me than the splendor of any Italian cathedral. Such exchanges would not have been possible if chairs were placed individually in the same location. What I sought from my travels was not a spectacular sight or ancient ruins, but rather the opportunity to understand people from all walks of life who lived on the other side of the world – people like me, and parents like mine.
The bench, therefore, serves as more than just a place to sit; it is a social hub that promotes accessibility in the community beyond individual differences. At a time when people are increasingly isolated and social distancing is necessary, the bench welcomes us with open arms, irrespective of our age or status.
The bench serves various purposes, such as a space for contemplation and introspection, socialization, and relaxation for different individuals. Specifically, for employees, the bench provides an opportunity to foster dialogues and enhance camaraderie with colleagues, alleviate work-related stress, momentarily disengage from work responsibilities, and unwind.
Moreover, it allows one to calmly reflect on their thoughts and attain serenity amidst the chaotic work environment. Although incorporating lush foliage and avian life into the surrounding environment would enhance the aesthetic appeal, the mere presence of benches within and outside industrial sites initiates the process of healing.
The remaining areas, such as benches, are essential components of industrial sites for ensuring worker safety. Serving as an extension of the work environment, these areas are valuable spaces for recharging. They aid in preventing accidents and self-inflicted injuries resulting from work-related exhaustion. The recent evolution of bench design has resulted in a diverse range of options.
While some designs prioritize simplicity and functionality, others are works of art that blend seamlessly into the urban landscape. Despite their differences, all benches share a common objective: to provide a sanctuary for those in need. Eco-friendly and recycled materials have been utilized in bench design, emphasizing the need to reduce environmental impact while creating seating options that provide personal space and convenience.
In contemporary society, benches have become an oasis of relaxation and reflection amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life. They serve as a reminder to slow down and appreciate the beauty surrounding us. Furthermore, the stumps-like love left by Selverstein's generous giving tree on the bench is a testament to the enduring impact of these structures in bringing people together.