I’m relatively new to the coffee game. I never drank it until a few weeks ago. But now it’s become a pleasure to sit in a public place with a black cup of joe just watching the world.
I’m not, however, new to people-watching. One of my great hobbies is to sit alone in the dining halls, or on a bench, or in the quad, marveling at all the people hurrying by.
For those of you looking for profound reflection, you’ll not find it in my head. Sometimes I just sit and I’m sad. I brew over my coffee and wonder whether or not these are the best days of my life. Reminiscing about the good old days, I wonder how good they really were. Other times I’m smiling, just because I get to enjoy a second cup of coffee. Happy to know that my mind is sharp and my body brawny, that I’m able to know and do things the average person only dreams about.
Yet generally speaking, I sit, as we all often do, in some sort of stasis. Trapped in the purgatory of routine. Waiting for the next time we can drink, or fuck, or laugh, or dance, or listen to music. Already longing for med school, or law school, or a cushioned job somewhere near the top. Just as in high school we longed for college, and in adulthood we’ll long for retirement. Sometimes I wonder what retired people long for. Maybe they too are waiting for God.
No matter what I’m feeling, my thoughts turn back to the people I’m watching. On occasions, their clothes will stand out. Sometimes it’s the way they interact. Odd posturing, evasive eyes. Yet, most of them are normal, which is why I love people-watching. It’s taught me that deep down we’re all essentially the same. It’s taught me to care. Because when I hear about a girl being raped, I know that she is my sister. And when a boy is starving, I know he is my brother.
From that I’ve learned that despite all the uncertainties in life, this much is certain: that we should try our hardest to be loving. It will not be easy, and we will all fall short. And, in some situations, even the right decision will hurt. But all we can be is our whole selves, to bring what goodness we have to the table. That openness will better the world more than any divestment campaign.
A former friend once criticized my outlook on life as being too serious, citing my obsession with the Book of Job. But when is the time to take life seriously? In the end, where is profundity without gravity? I look out at all the people walking past me, and I wonder if they know that the decisions they make now, no matter how small, shape the trajectory of their character. It makes me wish we would all slow down and grab a second cup of coffee. Because when we reflect, our lives are given context.
And we all lack context.
Chris is waiting for you to grab that second cup of coffee. Contact him at email@example.com.