This is an odd time of year, a time of leavings and arrivals. It’s a no man’s land of waiting. The love of Saint Valentine is in the past and the drink of Saint Patrick is in the offing. Winter is casting it’s last shadow and spring is still several sunrises away. Mornings are sweatshirts and evenings are layers.
This is the in between time, done with this but not ready for that. We are finished here but not yet prepared to go there. It is a moment between moments, between love and drink.
Life can be difficult, and sometimes we need a moment or few to ourselves. Sometimes a bit of peace and quiet away from the general difficulties of life can be a respite, a relief, and a requirement if we want to establish some balance and order during these not so normal times. A walk alone can be beneficial in many ways and it is not the same as being lonely (unfortunately some do have difficulty with the distinction between the two).
A walk alone can distance us from the difficult people we often find ourselves dealing with on the daily. A walk alone can make our daily difficulties a little less so. A walk alone can offer perspective and possible solutions. A walk alone is a decision made with care and deliberation. Don’t be afraid to walk alone (we choose to walk alone). It is not the same as being lonely (loneliness chooses us).
I think of all the people who got to work from home during the course of the past year and a half and I get to wondering about those people who officed (yep, turning a noun into a verb) in public places. What happened to all those people who didn’t have an office space to work from to begin with and used coffee shops as their offices? Where did they work during the lockdowns and quarantines?
I won’t even try to estimate how many times I’ve gone to a local coffee shop for a cuppa and heard or saw somebody using the shop as an office. I’ve overheard and spied many a pitch, deal, hustle, and multi level marketing scheme at work while I drank overpriced, not so good coffee and read Walker Percy (or Lovecraft, or Parker, or O’Connor, or some other writer).
Many people are grumbling about going back to the office for work while others never left. Let’s take a moment to think about those who don’t have a set workplace, who don’t work from home, and who grind away at work where most of us go to relax.
What do we borrow? Money will come to mind for most of us. If we haven’t borrowed money directly we’ve borrowed it in the form of car notes, mortgages, student loans, and other various lines of credit. But we borrow so much more throughout our lives than just money. We borrow time, favors, circumstances, and so many other things both tangible and intangible. We’re a society of borrowers, but what do we pay back?
We pay interest on the money we borrow but what about the intangibles? What do we pay back on borrowed time or a friend’s good name? We’ve all borrowed. What do pay for that privilege?
Most of us have routines and rituals. One of mine is to spend an hour or so every Friday after work at the local bookstore’s café with a book and a cup of coffee. I’ve been going back there for last few Fridays now that the café is open to full capacity. Now that I’ve fallen back into that welcome routine I’ve discovered two things.
The first thing I discovered is that a few moments alone (even in a crowded café) to decompress with a good book before heading home is invaluable. That hour or so allows me to leave work worries at one place before heading to the next. The second is that the coffee at the café sucks. They offer a passable brew, but a year of lockdowns had me experimenting with a variety of excellent brews and now I recognize that the coffee at several places I frequent is not good (and that’s a polite assessment). I don’t plan on changing my Friday routine (I value my coffee shops hours too much) but I’m wondering if I should try to sneak in my own coffee (hip flask in the movie theater style) and just leave a bigger tip.