Friday, October 25, 2013

It's not about the coffee

The guys are here this morning - Bob, Bobby, Harold, Frank and Henry - the usual crew, minus Jim. They tell me Jim is involved with an organization that rescues dogs and he is on his way to North Carolina with a litter of puppies.  They are here every morning and they all share a table and talk and laugh.

The first time I met them, I was sitting over at 'my' table.  I could hear them talking about the government and the world and I just had to go over and introduce myself.  They were just so fun and witty and clever and I felt drawn to them.  They welcomed me warmly that first day1 and every single time since then, when they see me, they wave me over to join them.  Sometimes I pull up a chair and sit with them for a few minutes, but most times I stay standing as we talk and joke and I leave them to carry on fixing all that is wrong with the world. 

They tell me they have been meeting here for a long time and sometimes after this they go over to Panera Bread to meet with a different group of friends.  They have an easy, relaxed nature and I envy their friendship and comfort with each other.  I can totally picture them making the rounds bringing laughter and happiness wherever they go.

When I watch them now, and when I think back to them later on during the day, I find myself comforted by them.  They are not mean or angry or cranky.  They are friends who seem to enjoy each other, life and just being.  With the pressure to 'do', it's almost impossible to believe that people can enjoy just 'being', but I get the feeling that they do.

When I was in CT, I would go to McDonalds each morning for coffee and to check my emails before I would go to be with mom.  I was only there three consecutive mornings, but I saw the same people each time.  There were four different tables of people sitting by themselves and there was no laughter.  
Every once in a while, they would comment about something that was on the news, but no one moved from their seats.  They talked, but they stayed where they were, sitting by themselves.  They were connected but still maintained their distance.  Perhaps they got comfort from their routine, but I couldn't help thinking about the vast difference between them and my B&N friends back home2.

My friends at Barnes and Noble so clearly get much satisfaction from their friendship and routine.  But I find myself wondering if the people I saw at McDonalds get as much satisfaction from their daily routine as well.  I think that perhaps they do and it just is not so visible and it exists on a different level.

I am a solitary person by nature.  I enjoy, I appreciate and I love being with people, but I find my center and my strength by going inward.  I seek contact with family, friends and sometimes strangers, but I have discovered that what gives me energy is quiet.  Everyone is different and recharges by different means, and after much trial and error, I found that this is what works for me. 

Lately, as I find myself seeking comfort and nurturing for my soul, I appreciate the interactions with strangers and I am glad that there are so many different types of people in the world.  I am thankful for the happiness and joy that Bob, Frank and the others bring me and I also admire and respect the solitary nature of the folks at McDonalds.  
We are all just people trying to navigate our way in this world and doing the best we can. No matter where my heart is, I hope I never lose the ability to recognize and appreciate that.

1. And I'm not sure, but I believe that Bobby was flirting with me.  It's hard to say, it's been so long since I've been on the receiving end of a flirt.

2.  I don't know how long I will have to live in SC before I say "home" easily. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Peace noun \ˈpēs\ : Freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility

Every morning I get dressed and one of the first things I do is put my "Peace" stone in my pocket. Many times throughout the day, as my fingers feel the smoothness of the stone, I find myself grasping to receive it's message.  

My quest for peace came about many, many years ago and it began with my father. My father was a very intense and angry man.  He wasn't angry at us, he was angry at himself and this caused him a lot of mental and physical angst.  

About five years before his death, my dad made the decision that he was no longer going to live his life angry anymore and made some very brave changes. It was a very difficult process for him but he had a great support system and it was something he wanted very much to achieve.  

Among the many things my dad did to change his life, and the one that had the most profound effect on him, was learning Tai Chi.  My dad totally embraced the art of Tai Chi and the change in him was amazing and dramatic.  My father always loved his family, but now he could show us and tell us and it seemed he couldn't express it enough.  He felt he had a lot of time to make up for.

But this gal, I wasn't having none of that.  I decided that I wasn't about to make it easy for him to love me and proceeded to make myself hard for him to love. And boy did I.  

My father never wavered or stopped no matter how much I resisted him.  He kept on loving me and finally, finally, he broke through. When I think now of how foolish I was, it fills me with a sadness deep in my heart that I feel will never be eased.

Every summer my mom and dad rented a cottage in Charleston, RI.  It was a vacation that they looked forward to every year.  It had gotten especially enjoyable because now there were grandchildren and "Bumpa" loved spending time his family.  Austin, Kelsey and Morgan brought him much joy and happiness.  

One summer, long before I was married, I had joined them for a few days at the cottage. I had gotten up early to go to the bathroom and on my way I happened to look outside.  It was about 6 am in the morning, the kind of morning that you get when you are within a mile from the beach, and there was my father in the backyard doing his Tai Chi exercises.

I stopped and watched him and even now, almost 20 years later, I can not even find the words or feelings that would ever come close to describing what I saw and what I felt in my heart in that moment looking at my father. I saw something in him that I never saw in another person before.  The serenity, peace and grace I saw moved me to tears then and it still does. 

I carry the 'peace' stone because this is what I strive for.  This is what I want in my life and in my heart.  I want to feel and experience that peace that I saw in my father that morning.  The peace that my dad fought so hard for.  The peace that he deserved to live longer to enjoy. 

Peace.  Peace in my mind and peace in my heart. So hard for me to achieve but I keep on trying.  And that is why I carry my stone.