“I don’t know,” I replied. “Why do you get up and go to work every day?”
There really isn’t any reason why I’ve decided to do this. Sitting on a bench for twenty-four straight hours was an idea that came from nowheres-ville, like any other idea you come across from day to day. You look at someone running and think, I should take up running. Maybe just for a year. Or you hear a song on the radio and decide to take a trip to Argentina. The ideas that we come up as we amble through time aren’t any better or worse than the one before it, we just sometimes actually decide to act on them.
I’ve always had an impulsive personality like this. I’ve had ideas, and I usually enact them: a surfing trip to Costa Rica; a backpacking voyage across Europe, or even something as simple as a night-time, mile-long walk to the nearest corner store, just because I want a cookie at three in the morning.
I never consider these ideas dumb or stupid, no matter how dumb or stupid they are. Once I get an idea in my head, it’s hard to get it out, and even if it takes a year of preparation and hard work, I’ll get it done. My move to New York was like this: I decided one day after getting a flat tire in my brand-new truck on the 5 in California, to fix my flat, turn my truck around, go to the dealer, and sell it back to them. Two weeks later I was living in New York.
So once I came up with the idea of sitting on a park bench for twenty-four straight hours, I couldn’t shake it off. It was like a bad itch. Unlike some of my other ideas, I had no idea what the point of this one really was. A surfing trip to Costa Rica promised surf; a backpacking trip across Europe promised interesting, historical sightseeing; a trip to the corner store promised a cookie.
But sitting on a bench? What is that supposed to be? What aim am I striving for? What am I going after? What’s my angle?
After thinking long and hard about it, I decided that not having an idea of what to get out of it was exactly what made me want to do it. I just moved to New York about six months ago, and because I’m new to the city, wouldn’t it be great to watch the same spot for twenty-four hours, and just see what happens?
To continue reading and follow Paul on his project, check out the full 24h NYC park bench project.