Cafe scene continued …

 

There is so much more to the day than going to work, Rich thought. It is really worth experiencing a day like this. The morning stretches so much further when you have no where to go, when you are not the one in a hurry but you watch the world unreval. A consistent flow of people headed past the cafe windows, some stopping for Jack’s coffee, some in a hurry. The cafe was busy now, there was a constant clinging of plates and glasses, the hiss of the coffee machine, Jack’s chatter with the regulars. And the smell – fresh brewed coffee and toast, that is the smell of morning.

His cup was now empty. He moved it to the side of the table and got his sketch book and pencils out of his bag. “Chatter” he wrote across the top of an empty page. He watched Jack talk to his customers, he knew their names, he new their stories. People were happy to talk to the barista. Rich sketched a few coffee cups and a couple of figures. He loved to draw, but he didn’t do it very often. It always seemed like something irrelevant, unnecessary and unproductive. Nothing to do with work, nothing to do with his goals. Just sometimes the need to get his notebook out came through.

“Can I get you anything else?” the waitress asked, standing next to his table and takin the empty cup.

“Another coffee? A flat white, please.” He answered looking up and smiling. She was pretty, with a nice, sincere smile. She looked happy.

“Sure. You draw?” She looked at my sketch book, and with a big smile she pointed to the page “Is that me?”

“Yeah, a little bit. I was just playing around. Just watching you guys mingle with the customers.” I answered somewhat embarrassed. She smiled and walked away towards the counter.

He watched the waitress and touched up his sketch. There. That’s more like her, he thought, happy with the result.

“What do you think now?” He showed her the page as she came over to his table. She put down his coffee and took his sketch book. Her smile became even broader. Her eyes laughed.

“That’s really cool. You are good!” She answered, “An artist”.

“I am glad you like it. Thanks. I just draw sometimes, when I feel the need.” He was happy that she liked it, “You are new here, right? I have not seen you here before.”

“Oh, you are a regulat. Cool. Yeah, I have been here for a week. Yeah, about that. Sorry, I better get back to it.” She hurried over to the counter where there were a few more people waiting to pay for their coffees.

Rich sipped his coffee. There morning rush was coming to an end. There was less people running to the train now.

“Rich, how was your coffee? Awake now?” Jack looked over from behind the coffee machine, his morning coffee making-run was coming to an end.

“Great, thanks mate. Awake. It’s quiet a rush you guys have here in the morning, I guess it gets you alert very quickly” He replied. Jack again turned his attention to a client at the counter.

Where is this going? Need to expand the three characters. And what is Rich’s plan for the day? 

A refreshing start

The cool air was refreshing. Like a mighty strong coffee – it went straight to your senses and you were awake. The vast blue sky lit up with the promise of a sunny day. For many the day had already started. In the car or with a brisk step, people where heading towards their morning destinations.

I take life too seriously. Why do I always analyze everything over and over? That is why it is so hard for me to write. I stay inside my head and come up with the same stuff. Thoughts, doubts, some deliberations. I need to lead my imagination to a different place, a different time. A time and a place that has nothing to do with me. 

The sun was shining through the fogged up window announcing the start of a new day. It was quiet, just a few birds, the humming of the fridge and the moving of the floor boards upstairs. He listened in to the silence for a moment. Sat down on the couch, just taking it all in. Then got up, grabbed his bag, put on his hat and walked out the door.

The cool air was refreshing. Like a mighty strong coffee – it went straight to your senses and you were awake. The vast blue sky lit up with the promise of a sunny day. For many the day had already started. In the car or with a brisk step, people where heading towards their morning destinations. Most in a hurry. Many with a sombre look on their face. For Rich, watching these people in their morning routine was enjoyable, he himself was not in a hurry, he did not have a destination. His was simply enjoying the start of a new day – because he wanted to, not because he had to. Big difference, one that made him smile.

The drycleaners, the barber shop, the bottleshop and the pizza place were all shut lifeless. It would be hours still until the oven would be fired up and someone’s taste buds called for a margarita. For the Vietnamese drycleaners these were probably the 4 hours in which they allowed themsleves a rest. The barber shop would be buzzing a little earlier with all the Lebanese boys coming in for a shave and a chat. Right at the end of the short strip of shops were the red window frames of the Rosebud. Few tables outside, visible from a distance told you that it was a cafe. Coming closer one had no doubts – coffee.

“Good morning Rich” Came the greeting as soon as he walked through the door.

“Morning Jack” He answered, looking to his left, at a tall man wiping one of the small tables.

“You not going into work this morning? And you are out and about already?” The man finished wiping the table, stood up and with the wet cloth in his right hand moved closer to the counter, “What’s going on mate?”

“Got the day off, no work apparently. Yeah, I thought I would see what the world looked like in the morning when you don’t have to rush to work.” He explained. “Busy morning?”

“Not yet. It’s still early. But it will be soon. Coffee?” the man asked, now behind the coffee machine.

“Yes, please. I will have it here. Always wondered what it would feel like to sit at those windows and not have to go to work. I guess you get that everyday, right?” He smiled, moving towards the small table at the back, near the window. He took his bag off and sat down. Facing the cafe and the street on the other side of the window.

“Yeah mate, I get it everyday. And love it each time the sun comes up.” came a jolly reply, “So, you got anything in particular planned for the day? It’s going to be a nice one. Good morning.” The greeting was directed at a woman who had just come in.

“I am not sure yet. I just though I would wander about a little. I will get the train into the city and see where I end up” Rich replied. A few more people had come in since he arrived. He looked out the window not wanting to expand on his plans for the day. People were going past in more and more of a hurry. Laptop bags, few briefcases, couple of school bags, and of course handbags. Everyone was ready for the day’s tasks. Rushing towards the train.

“Thank you” he said looking up at a girl who put his coffee on the table. A new girl. Long black hair, not too tall, in the standard waitress black. She smiled and walked away towards the counter. He looked at Jack behind the coffee machine, now busy feeling a line of paper cups with the coffee and milk. He looked up at him and smiled.

Jack owned the Rosebud Cafe. He made the coffee and did some cooking. He usually had a waitress to help him out with serving the customers, make toasts and plate muffins and the like. Rosebud did not have too much of a menu, but it was a great place for a coffee and a chat.

Ok, that may not be moving too far away from my time and my place, but it’s a start. Little to do with thoughts, more about simple tasks, a few different characters and a few places – one in a totally different place and time. Let’s come back to this, ok? 

Passion over ambition and expectations

 

The most important thing in any venture in life is to keep yourself focused on the big picture; work hard, as is often advised – stick to a routine, but stay fresh, creative and open-minded. The daily grind, routine, discipline and getting the details right is important, vital even, however one we must remember what the end goal is. It is very easy to fly off, in enthusiasm or momentary dispair, into unproductive questioning and back-tracking, or even sudden plans to turn it all around.

Reading Chris Nichols’ blog entry titled “Remembered for Something” on his blog The Renegade Press, I think about ambition. In his revealing piece, Chris writes about a moment of weakness in which he sought fame, and wanted to take his writing talent to the world. His ego told him he wants to be great, he wants to sell many books, be famous and make lots of money. He got sidetracked, ended up spending time on tasks other then his writing, with no positive results forthcoming, Chris had to look within him self and find his way back to his original path and goal – to write. This is a place we all finds oursleves, not only in the sphere of writing, but in all paths of life. I think it has a lot to do with ambition, and in a number of ways it is a product of societal expectations. This ‘trap’ can be very powerful in holding us back from pursuing our passions and doing things our way. Instead of simply doing it we ask – What will I become? Will I be good at it, successful?

We all want to be good at something. By being ‘someone’ – a writer, manager, professor, accountant, we are defined and safe.”What do you do?” – is a question we want to answer safely, convincingly, without roundabout explanations. That is a minimum. Then comes ambition and expectations. We want to be good at what we do, but whats important we want others to acknowledge that we are good, and we want to be rewarded for it. With this in mind we may actually loose sight of what we want to do, or what we saw as our big picture. Instead of getting down to write, one will spend time trying to sell their writing to the big publishers, instead of pursuing a business idea or gaining new skills one may focus on looking for a job, believing that the job will provide satisfaction, money and a piece of mind.

Recently in a conversation with a young work collegue of mine, I was saying that it is really, really difficult to actually do what you want in life. It must be said that for most of us even knowing what we WOULD want to do in life is not obvious. I stress the WOULD, because at that instant I consider a hypothetical case – if we suddenly had absolutely no excuses – time, money, physical condition etc. – would we actually know what we wanted to do?

At times of optimistic highs, I manifest the belief that one should try to do what they think is right for them, what they feel they are good at or what they where destined to do. If some searching is necessary, then that is what one should devote themselves to. This may mean years of not fulfilling ‘your potential’ or years of going in circles and endlessly battling self-doubt. Staying vulnerable, but with the belief that – “there maybe something there for me”. After all what is the alternative? Will we get a second chance?

When pessimism hits, I set my sights on all the negative interpretations of “reality”. A bout of desperation often results in a determined dash towards the safehouses of “good job”, various specialist courses, and throwing away all the distractive and destructive nonsense. Trying to answer questions such as – Where will I be in ten years? Do I actually know what I am doing? Then, once the pessimism wears off, I come to the realisation that I prefer to stay myself, struggle but do it my way, with hope that I will find what I am looking for or what I set my mind on will in the end prove to be the right choice.

In the end we only have this one shot at it. So.. don’t be scared of failure, don’t let your ambition blind your passion and do not worry what others think of you.

 

Moments to savour

 

The bright, warm rays of sun sneak through beneath the blinds. There is a promising snippet of a blue sky fighting through, round the edges of the covered window. After three days spent inside a factory, it is a great feeling to wake up to a bright, warm room, with the luxury of ambivalence towards the usually daunting sound of the alarm clock. Ambivalence, because staying in bed for a few more moments is a pleasure uncommon in the daily routine, but getting up early, and before anyone else does, allows for a celebratory cup of strong, black coffee and few moments to savour the quietness of the early morning.

Three days, three long, twelve hour shifts inside a loud, airless factory. No, I am not complaining and it is not as bad as it sounds. It’s tedious work, sometimes physically demanding, at other times it drags on and one is left alone with their thoughts. Come clock-off time, I rejoin the world and am keen to find out what has been happening.

So what has happened in those three days?

I can not resist making a comment regarding the appointment of Boris Johnson to the role of Foreign Secretery in the UK. I could not believe when I saw the news. It seems that the appointment was a suprise to the media and, no doubt to foreign affairs representatives of many nations. I do not know enough about the man’s accomplishments as the Mayor of London, however it is certain he was one of the key figures in the Brexit campaign, an accomplished globetrotter and … a menace in his service to his nation. It is baffling to me how a man who has absolutely no background in international relations, who is a brazen opportunist and an offensive loud-mouth can represent a great nation, a former empire, in the sensitive and intertwined realm of international affairs. He has offended people, nations and major leaders. He is seen as untrustworthy and unprofessional. He may have his talents, he may be influencial and have a ‘feel’ for the celebrity world, I do have an appreciation for the ‘self-made man’, those flamboyant, charismatic and brave people that make something of themsleves, make great fortunes or acquire a significant social standing, but not at the expense of normal people who are vulnerable in seeking simple answeres to complex realities, not at the expense of public trust nor international stability. This is not the right place for such a man.

The complex realities, I use a plural as these are different for different people around the globe, are very, very complex. In the past week the world has watched TV footage of the dramatic, tragic events in Nice. So many lives, so much pain and anguish. From Nice to Ankara, where the Turkish President was almost ousted in an attempted cout d’etat, an event sure to destabilise the region and perhaps create tensions in NATO.

As I am finishing this post the sun is again high up in the sky, its a fantastically warm day, but a week has gone past in a flash. Two short, wonderful moments, and a week inbetween. Just a reminder that moments are there to be savoured.

 

walk to the store

 

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Daily Prompt: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/desert/

The store was about 400 metres away. In the town centre. Precisley centre, as the entry to the store faced the centre of the intersection. The only intersection in town, where two wide slabs of asphalt met to form a cross on an otherwise endless desert, unmarked by the human hand, nor by natures immagination.

The road was so wide, that looking at it, one straight away made a comparison to a football field – almost like a football field. Everything out here inspired a feeling of infinite, endless space. Whatever we, people put up, always seemed small, insignificant and fragile. The desert would eventually swallow up everything, leaving only the bigger, sturdier buildings standing, ghost-like in the middle of nowhere, beaten by the sun and sand.

The side of the road cracked, and crumbled, blended with dusty gravel, and the omnipresent orange dirt. He walked slowly. The sun was now spread across the entire sky. The brightness and the heat made walking unbearable. He was used to it, but it still made him tired. He had an old straw hat on his head, a thin and loose, cotton shirt, wide open on the chest, and a pair of  red, rag pants. Old worn sandals protected his feet from the frypan that was the ground.

There was no one in the street. The shades were drawn in the diner. He did not look towards the pub, it was too long a walk, and besides he had different plans for the afternoon. He pushed the door to the store open, and was ushered in by the welcoming sound of the bell. The store was hot, stuffy and dark, but offered some respite from the tortorous sun.

 “G’day Bill” he said as he made his way to the counter “No one around I see? Anyone come in here?”.

“G’day” the store keeper replied “Nah, it’s been a quiet morning. I don’t blame them with this heat. What are you after mate?”

“I will get some ginger beer and a few of them apples you had the other day” he replied.

“We got bread and rolls delivered about an hour ago. Want some?” the store keeper asked in reply moving towards the drinks shelf.

“Fresh hah? Yeah, I may as well grab few of those white rolls.” he replied thinking to him self – “we have to eat something”.

He paid the man, picked up his bag and walked back out into the scorching heat. Nothing had changed out there, no one around. Nothing happening. He shook his head, and smiled at the same time. “Why am I still here?” he thought to himself. And started walking towards the house, towards the outskirts of town.

forbidden to be yourself?

 

The Daily Post: Forbidden

“You act as if it is forbidden to be yourself. To think about what you want” he looked at me with a careful, measured gaze.

“Forbidden? I don’t think it is forbidden. How did you get there?” I replied, suprised at his provoking suggestion. We’ve been talking about some decisions I had been grappling with in recent weeks, and the ideas of reality and choice came up.

“Well, you are saying that you have some free time on your hands. And straight away you start getting yourself into choices, need to focus and doing things which you describe as …meaningful.” he said, “It seems that with a little more space and time, you become scared?”

“Scared? Come on, scared of what? I am just saying that I have a few choices, but I need to get back to reality. I don’t always want to be in-between things. Always playing catch up. Thats fair isn’t it?” I smiled at his suggestion, now sure that the old man was taking me on one his philosophical ponderings.

“But ‘reality’?” was his questioning reply.

“Yeah, you are not familiar with the concept?” I laughed.

“I am not sure what is ‘reality’. Who shapes your reality? And how do you know that you need to ‘get back to it’? What you are doing now is not reality?” again answering with a question. He looked amused and ready for a long discussion.

The sun was now high above the tin roof. ‘Hot’ was no longer an adequate term. It was scorching. The air filled with ferocious, still, lifeless heat. It will be this way until late afternoon. We had plenty of time. The shade of the tin verandah roof was still gentler than the furnace a few steps away.

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“You know what I mean. I can’t sit on this verandah forever. I need to sink my teeth into something. Something meaningful.Why is that acting like it is forbidden to be yourself?” I was curious to hear what he was actually getting at.

“It seems you are so quick to abandon your freedom to choose, to shape yourself and that ‘reality’ you keep on talking about” he replied sitting up in his armchair, “It is as if it is forbidden to walk your own path. You are free to choose your own way. To break with old habits, and move away from the roles society has put onto you. A great thinker said that we are condemned to be free.”

“Condemned? Why condemned? We are talking about being free, but saying there is condemnation involved?” I looked at him with curiosity.

“Condemned, because it is something we have to deal with. It is a responsibility to actually do something with your freedom. In a moment of uncertainty, or when we are really unsure about ourselves, we revert back to what we already know, to other people’s expectations of us. Sometimes it is easier to believe that something we have really hated in the past, is now the only safe option for us.” He was launching into a monologue, but it was food for thought.

“Okay, I think I see what you are saying. So I hated being stuck in the city, in the same building day in, day out. But now that I am really struggling to find a new path, I am actually thinking that it would be a good place to be in again,” I was now reflecting on some of my thoughts which did come to mind over the last week or so.

“There you go. And most people do this. Why? Is it forbidden to be yourself? To shape your own life?” he said in an excited voice, “You know what? This verandah is just as hot as it is in the open sun. I might go for a short walk to the store. What do you say we pick up where we left off in a few hours?”.

I nodded, and watched him walk down the steps. The man is as lonely and unhappy as he is free. Life has thrown him around the place. Yet he still is ready to impart wisdom.

Life’s choices

 

He walks past the same cafes, bars, ice cream parlours, looking in, taking in the bustle, the sight of occupied tables, diners, dates and drinks. Life. Other people’s lives. It has been years since he last walked these streets. Much has changed. So much. Yet … so little.

Years. Yet the the same sense of longing, loneliness, and sadness floats a few steps ahead, preceeds him. At moments like this, it is so easy to anticipate the feelings. That ‘sense’, those ‘feelings’ hit reality, bouncing back at him with force, and again, becoming stronger, sadder, that much more hopeless, desparate. Like a snowball – once it starts, it is hard to stop it.

It starts with wanting it all. Desirous of everything at once, as the quote goes. Maybe a belief that it can be done, it could be possible. A few thoughts, a few doubts, and it is no longer all that clear.

Chaos. There are suddenly three options. Four. The same ones. “Maybe I should …” “Maybe I could …”,”I should have done that five years ago. Why didn’t I continue with it?”. Many options, and so hard to decide on the right one. Chaos. Idecisiveness. Defeat.

Difficult to understand how a person can be so torn. How is it possible that someone at that age, still has not decided what they want to do with their life? Thoughts are in chaos. This open the door wide open, with doubt and anxiety coming in to take over.

Some would gloss over the details, not overthink it, and come to the enthusiastic conclusion: There has been so much success. The years have brought so many positive changes. Loneliness is a feeling of the past. Defeat should be a distant consideration. No. Not he. He thinks. Needs a plan for the future. Is it ambition? Need to belong? A need to feel deserving of a pat on the back?

It will pass, and chaotic enthusiasm will sweep his spirits up to appreciate the freedoms his decisions have brought him.  Hopeful and lucky. Ready to face the future.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/chaos/