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Thoughts at a Coffee Shop

I've been watching people today. I've looked up for long enough to really notice the people around me, their expressions telling me what their minds are up to. I've sensed an entire spectrum of their emotions from joy and amusement, to middle-of-the-road complacency, down to loneliness, depression and despair. I've noticed the quiet ones the most. I've noticed how they barely look up, barely look at those they don't know. And I can't miss the expression of the loud ones either, when they become quiet, after they've finished laughing and chatting amicably, after they've said their goodbyes to friends, and retreated back into their solitary world.

I've always thought the culture of coffee shops to be very symbolic of what is happening on the whole with regard to our connections with one another. All these people congregating over a black brew feels age-old, but what I mostly see these days are people bringing other people's words captured in print, newspapers, novels, or portable electronic devices, to hang out in public--as if direct communication has become too hard. As if the idea of venturing out in public is to be surrounded by others in the warmth of flesh, but to remain separate with the crutch of our word-buddies, or at the least to hide behind indirect forms of digital communication.

Yet, it is true that the bustling of other bodies and the rustling of newspapers, or the powering up of a laptop provides such comfort.

Direct communication just feels hard.

Yes, it must be the duality again. Together but separate--not too close, however, because frankly, let's admit it. It is hard to get along with people, no matter who they are.

How I imagine a world where we drop our guards, where we connect with others from a released and peaceful place within us, able to really see the gifts of one another, because we don't feel threatened by their gifts. We partake of what they have to offer because we offer it up too.

Why care about direct interactions?

Direct interactions help us break our ragged thinking patterns, help us to release our stories into the world, and then to set them free. To expand peace.

I dream of a time when it feels easy to get along, to approach one another because we set others at ease, and they set us at ease. We suspend judgement, because we know our judgement is only a projection of our fears about ourselves. We side-step our fear.

A common theme with my friends is that it takes a village, but how we rarely if ever use our village, afraid of asking too much, of appearing weak. Mostly we don't know where the village boundaries are anymore--too much separation for too long will do that.

I find myself often not taking advantage of the village, trying most of what I do on my own. My help of choice often exists within the safety of the indirectness of people's words captured in print.

And yet time and time again, I recognize that it can take only minutes with a friend from my village to set me on a course towards hope and inspiration, and to disperse the energy of impossibility, of loneliness, of pessimism. It only takes an extension of love towards my children from a friend, for me to marvel at them again.

I've seen multiple times perfect strangers come together to celebrate rituals, how they let go of inhibitions sitting in circles, dancing under the moon, celebrating the simplicity of the rhythms of our earth. I've seen how instantly they begin to share themselves, their pain and their triumphs, how they begin to ask for the essence of support and to give the essence of support. I see the richness of this feeling of connection, and how it travels with us back into our experiences. I can no longer pretend I don't know what is possible.

I see how this kind of connection needs practice, just like anything. The connection can remain tentative. I see invisible shields rise up over us when the magic is finished, as we retreat back into our regular lives, with our familiar collections of people, as we venture into the technology of our cars, as we check messages on our cell phones, all that bring us back to our conditioned routines, that often do not allow time for connecting. The duality again.

Yet, guards are dropping all over the place-look at the blogging world, and, of course, reality TV just keeps getting realer, and realer-- even toward the inspiring. A friend was telling me about a new show on network TV with a self-help guru helping people to move past their limitations in big rating-raising ways.

Sometimes it is hard to color outside of the lines-- but I don't think I could ever stay steadily inside them again. I yearn too much for a world where we find the surprise of peace emanating from our hearts, as we learn that we really can brush up against those around us in an intimate way, with no crutches, and find a safe place to land.

And for a moment when we close our eyes, and lay it all down, we allow ourselves to be swaddled in this perfection of newness.


  1. I am sure if you got inside everyone's head, this would be what everyone feel connected to, supported by, and accepted just as they are.

    Thank you for reminding us how important it is to be fearless!

  2. I love how you touched so lightly on the "village" aspect of our transformation. To allow the village requires a willingness to be vulnerable to be cared for and to know we are deserving of this care not for what we do but simply because we exist. That's recognizing and functioning from our truest most authentic Selves.

    I love you just the way you are. Shelley

  3. "And for a moment when we close our eyes, and lay it all down, we allow ourselves to be swaddled in this perfection of newness."

    This feels like peace to me, to lay it all down and allow ourselves to be swaddled.

    Remember that beautiful evening at Lea's circle when you sang that song to me--straight from your heart. I felt so completely swaddled in that moment & so loved. I will never forget the perfection of that beautiful moment. And i could never thank you enough for so freely giving it to me.

    I hope you allow yourself to be swaddled too, my friend, & to close your eyes and lay it all down.

    You are held, Brooke, and so so loved.


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