Wednesday afternoon. I sit in the bay window of a small coffee shop, a cup of espresso on the gnarled wooden table top. The dulcet tones of Jack Johnson audible above the clatter of china and mumbles of conversation from the other patrons. I sit there and sip at the hot elixir but my mind and thoughts are elsewhere. How often do we take a moment or two and just look? Not gaze or dream, but observe the world around us. The people going by, each with their own troubles and urgencies, loves and hates, desires and desperations.
I see the young couple very much in lust with hands all over each other. The old couple urgently shuffling over the pedestrian crossing so as not to inconvenience the drivers too much. The gay couple holding hands as their Yorkshire Terrier, a red bow neatly atop its furred head, trots excitedly ahead of them.
Its times like this, when I sit for ages and take in the rest of the world that my eyes begin to open to so much more.
A large lady waddles past, four children under 10 shouting and laughing around her. She seems ignorant of their raucous behaviour as she skilfully negotiates the screen of her bright pink mobile with one hand and dangles a grey plastic bag of groceries in the other. Three one litre bottles of coke, two bags of Smiths chips, a loaf of white bread and a tray of budget sausages, all straining against the constraints of the recycled plastic.
One of the children, a freckled boy of perhaps seven or eight, presses his snotty nose against the café window and stares into the crowded den of coffee and cakes. He is instantly pushed away by another boy, similar in age and stature with a shriek of excitement, leaving a smeared window for the staff to wipe away sometime in the closing hours.
Another old man, hunched over from years of tired bones ambles past with the aid of a cane. Did he serve in the wars? What was his home life like? Perhaps he went home to an empty house full of old memories and waited for the darkness to eventually take him. If that is so, I hoped it is to a place where his friends and lovers wait patiently for their reunion. I finish the coffee and sit back.
The world keeps moving through its moments, pushing us ever forward and onward to whatever meets us.
Regardless of what we do, I think it’s important we take a moment to watch and appreciate, to take in and realise, the world is full of other people.