We all have our favorite places… You know, the place you visit when everything seems to be going wrong, when you need to relax, or when you just need to concentrate. Some people retreat to a cushy spot under a shady, big oak tree while others escape to the home of a relative or close friend; however, my favorite place doesn’t involve nature or loved ones.
My favorite place is the coffee shop.
There’s something comforting about grasping the metal handle and pulling the door towards your body, opening yourself up to what this environment can give.
There’s something vulnerable about allowing the rich, strong smell of coffee beans to invade your nostrils without your permission.
There’s something luxurious about ordering a complicated caffeinated beverage that you could never make yourself in the comfort of your own home.
There’s something exciting about being surrounded by others who share the common circumstance of being at the exact same place, at the exact same time time, with you.
But above all, I come to the coffee shop because I like to think.
When I sit down at that table, I unload both my mind and my physical belongings. I place my jacket or sweater over the back of my cold chair. I set my laptop onto the table top and gingerly lift the lid. I plug myself into the wall and into my own escape.
I clear my mind, my head, my life and I concentrate on the now.
Nothing matters but this location, this building, this coffee shop.
I drown out the conversation fluttering around me and I turn my phone on silent. With my ear plugs in, I let music become the only thing I hear, as if it’s a soundtrack carefully chosen for this moment.
I inhale the sweet scent of baked goods and I allow the ebb and flow of customers to mesmerize me.
I give in to my environment and surroundings.
I think about people other than myself and situations other than my own.
I lose myself in everything that I’m not directly connected to.
I retreat from my own life, my own stress, my own worry.
I think about everything and anything.
I ask myself why the young girl with tears in her eyes is tugging on her mothers coat sleeve while the woman is yelling into her cell phone. I ask myself what the smitten-looking teenage couple in the corner is whispering about. I ask myself where the elderly man reading a newspaper in the corner came from before he found himself sitting inside of this coffee shop.
I like to think because life is about more than just myself, my dreams, and my worries.
I like to think because everybody here has a past and a future ahead of them.
How amazing it is just to look around at these strangers and know that they are mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, friends, lovers, and soul mates.
Everyone has their own story and their own reason for sitting down in that coffee shop.
Listening to my soundtrack, I look around and I wonder…
Who is nervously waiting to catch up with an old romance and did they ever get over over the heartbreak they felt when their love just wasn’t enough? Did the invite to reconnect catch the other person off-guard or have they been waiting years for that phone call?
Who is sharing a conversation and heartwarming laughter with their brother, sister, mother, father, or best friend? Do they make it a point to sit down once a week so that weeks, months, and years don’t fly by without connecting just to say hello?
And who is using this very coffee shop as an their office, immersing themselvesin their espresso and spreadsheets? Are they working themselves to the point of exhaustion, determined not to let another promotion pass them by?
Nobody is forced to go to a coffee shop…
We choose to drive or walk to this location.
We choose to pay money for an unnecessary beverage.
We choose to sit down and drink that unnecessary beverage.
We all have a story. We all have a reason.
We all have a purpose for doing the things we do.