I love people watching (no, not in a creepy way). I find observing others fascinating- what or how they choose to do things, how they interact with one another, their display of unique mannerisms. What makes them tick?
I sat in my local Starbucks last week, taking brief casual glances around the shop as I sipped my coffee and hacked away at a term paper. I watched as an elderly gentleman slowly entered the store and made his way up to the register. His cane was held tightly in his weathered hand, steadying his awkward gate as he took shallow footsteps. He retrieved his breakfast and coffee then ventured to a nearby table. Slowly sinking into his chair, he placed his cane a top the wooden surface in front of him and began to rummage through the paper bag that contained his meal.
He was elderly and alone. Surely, he was lonely. Sad. Adrift.
I continued to observe the stranger who sat before me, puzzled as to why I was so drawn to him. After all, he was a typical old man showing no remarkable behaviors or appearance.
He sat slouched over and slowly consumed his bagel, using his index finger to collect the crumbs that his nibbles had left behind. Every so often he would look up and out the large window in front of him, the vibrant fall foliage reflected in his blue eyes as other patrons bustled around him.
Then it occurred to me why I was so fascinated by this seemingly run-of-the-mill man.
Words were not spoken, music was not played, text was not written, pages were not scrolled. He was not distracted.
Nearly everyone who surrounded him was entranced with their respective devices, oblivious to their environment. This man was not sad or lonely or adrift. He was merely sitting and reflecting as he enjoyed a quiet breakfast. Independent, reflective, calm, content.
There is so much that demands our attention each day and it is rare when one is observed without the accompaniment of technology. There is almost always a computer, phone, or device in hand in the name of getting an assignment accomplished or as a means of entertainment. We are surrounded and too often consumed by it.
This total stranger had grown up in a much simpler time when life was no doubt much slower and ‘noise’ was not as abundant. He is a wonderful reminder that life is not all gadgets, media, and gizmos and is an embodiment the beauty of mindfulness and simplicity.
So, remember to stop, eat your bagel and drink your coffee in total peace once in a while. So much more life occurs off of the screens that we are all so fixated upon.