Monday, December 5, 2011
Every few weeks if I’m running early to a meeting across the river, I stop in at a nice little coffee shop. They have good coffee, pleasant servers, and a nice ambience. I don’t go often enough at the same times of day to know where I should sit, though. I fear that yesterday I sat in someone else’s regular spot (I know not to do that at my more regular place on our side.) The empty table was inviting, nicely lit, out of traffic. But after I sat down and began to sip my coffee, an elderly gentleman came in, glanced my way as he got his coffee then hesitated just ever so slightly as he passed what had become temporarily ‘my’ table. Other than that slight hesitation and a very few, very brief, furtive glances from the next table that was now temporarily his table, I would not have known of my faux pas. So thanks for being cool about it, you whose table I took inadvertently. Next time I’ll try a different table. The coffee was good as always – this time it was an Indonesian dark roast – and I savored it. The only distraction was the low-fi radio music playing over the shop’s speakers. I like music. Right now I have a music playing and I am paying attention to it as I write. But I like music too much to hear it played just as a backdrop. Similarly, I like the land too much to have it act as just a backdrop. Rather than just visual background noise, streaming by as one travels through it, I like to savor it even if just by noticing individual features as they go by. One of my favorite complaints from the students in my ecology class is that I ruin their lives. Where before they could just let the scenery work as background noise, now they see little details in it. The ‘ruined my life’ part comes in when they now feel compelled to describe to their travel mates what they are seeing. That’s a good way to ruin someone’s life.