Almost every saturday morning I drive a few blocks to a local coffee shop to sit and write. The one that I sit in, is the kind you fantasize about when you are sitting in a Starbucks. I live in a small town in the Pacific Northwest, so it is only appropriate that I promote the small business rather than “the man,” right? Oh, and all of our beans are organic, or homegrown, or grass-fed or whatever. Look, I grew up in California, I am still adjusting to the culture here.
Anyway, when I walk in, I set my things down on one of the many open tables, stroll to the counter (where the barista knows my name!), and order a warm drink. I take it back to my seat, open my computer, put in my headphones, blast the indie music, and begin to write.
I get here when they open, and I stay for at least a few hours at a time. Slowly the place fills up, and I get to watch what happens. Yeah, I’m that creepy guy that watches you in the coffee shop.
Anyway, I love watching life happen, and coffee shops are a great place for that. So many people, so many stories. I see some familiar faces, and when I do, I hit the pause button, take out an earphone, exchange a smile and a few kind words, and then reimplant the headphone in my ear, unpause, and listen to the soundtrack of my morning as people pour in and out. I wonder how much more writing I would get done if I didn’t sit in a coffee shop? I also wonder how much life I would miss out on. I sit here and I watch mothers and daughters talk about their lives. I watch two college students sit across from each other “studying,” when secretly they are falling in love. A random person walks in, and from across the room someone lights up the sight of them because they didn’t expect to encounter them here this morning. Homeless people come in and find refuge. The same man comes in every morning and I watch him walk up and down the aisles of used books, slowly flipping the pages (oh yeah, this coffee shop doubles as a small book store…I told you, its what you dream of). Life happens here. Coffee shops are better than restaurants. In a restaurant, you miss so much because so much of your time is spent eating. At a coffee shop, you plan on talking, or reading, or listening. Coffee shops are where life happens.
I love the idea of community. I am still sorting out what it looks like to live in community. The idea of knowing people well, and being known is what life is all about. In a world that moves so quickly, it is hard to find time or space to truly live this way. I know people who do it, and they do it well. Community takes time. Effort. Endurance. Community is based on all kinds of people from all walks of life learning to spend time together, intentionally. I love the idea of living so close to friends that my kids can walk to their house for dinner, and they all come back to mine for dessert. In a world filled with calendars, day planners, and agendas, how do you live a life that has room for spontaneity? I’m still working it out, but I’ll be sure to share it when I’ve figured it out. What I know for sure is that life is meant to be lived in community. We were created to be in relationship with other people. Life lived together is where we learn to be who we are. We need people to talk with, to listen to, and be heard by. We long for this kind of life. Do you know why? A life lived like that is based on love. Love for each other. Life is all about relationships. That is why I like coffee shops. Life happens in coffee shops. People enjoy relationships in coffee shops. And even if I am not always the one relating, I am reminded that people are good, and love is real, and a realization like that is always worth a few hours and a cup of coffee.