It’s dark outside when it starts to pour with rain, so I dive into a coffee shop for shelter. It’s warm and cosy inside, with its snug armchairs and delicious aromas. But I find myself confronted by an array of options. Should I have a latte or a cappuccino? A mocha or an americano? I have time to decide. The queue is a long one.
When I turn away from the menu I notice the chap in front of me is reading Shakespeare. He appears deeply absorbed in the play, but the book he’s holding is upside down. I resist the urge to grab it and turn it the right way up. What do I know? Perhaps he’s had an argument with his wife. Or maybe he’s a mathematician or a quantum physicist pondering some deep calculation.
So I wait patiently, idling on these imaginings, watching the steam rise from the coffee maker, the gurgle and hiss dissolving into the general hubbub and chatter of the shop. I feel the blood thrumming in my veins, become conscious of my breathing. And something comes over me then, like time has somehow slowed down or stopped, as though I’m taking a step out of my usual perspective and seeing things from a long way away.
It’s only then I realise that everything is perfect just as it is. That none of the stuff we usually think of as important really matters – not the games we play, not the argument I had this morning with my work colleague, not the weather or this queue. It’s like I’ve gained a new superpower which allows me to see into to the true nature of the universe, and maybe something deeper and more profound is going on behind all of this – I mean, when you think about it, we’re all just wandering about on this blue rock spinning around in space next to a ball of fire. Isn’t that weird enough?
I shake my head, confused by this flash of insight, and with a start find myself at the till with the barista asking for my order. Hastily deciding on a cappuccino, I take it to a corner seat by the window. The moment has passed it seems and I find myself considering all the missed possibilities of a cinnamon swirl. But as I stare out into the dark and rain, a small voice inside says: ‘I’ll be here when you come this way again.’