The coffee house music was playing in the background as I walked across the wide planked, oak floors to slump into a worn wooden chair. Newspapers littered the table, detritus of another morning in another life, a parallel human universe that intersected with black words and crossword puzzles. I imagined a man sitting here, reading glasses pushed up over his short, gray hair, leaning back, black pen in his teeth, as he contemplated the next word. White tee shirt over cargo shorts, lean tanned legs, and middle-aged arms. He’s thoughtful. He gets up quickly, startles his neighbors, tosses the papers into a pile on the table and leaves. Leaving behind the intersection for me to stumble upon. The shop is quiet, save for the music droning in the background. I am sad, for a brief moment, that it wasn’t me that could stop for a moment and fill in that crossword puzzle. That is wasn’t me that breathed in the slowness of the morning air, relaxed with a deep sigh into the chair, sipping my coffee, waiting for the day to be on. The sadness is more than that. It’s almost as if I could place myself in this man’s place, for as I said, I imagine him to be a man. I can sit here and be him, and once transported back to my own place and time, I am sad for having lost the being of him.
Its in moments like this that I feel like something is passing me by. Another life that was once mine or could have been mine, like a railroad track veering off toward the right, a spur of steel and wood that was one of my destinies slipping into a ravine, never seen again. A surge of sleepiness takes me into its hands, cradling my sorrow with small, fluffy clouds of ennui. I do realize that I am doing what I am is what I have made myself, and it’s far from something to be sad about. There’s a kind of disjointedness that takes over from the heart when the head kicks in. They reach for each other, yet never quite touch, but straining as each insistent organ send out tendrils desperate to interlace.
The afternoon brings a plane flight home. As we circle over the smaller and smaller landscape, I see the place I grew up, the places I envision when day dreaming about what might have been. The air strip seems too small to carry the vastness of what this plane means. I notice a single truck, cargo style, driving down the highway toward the bridge toll. I see where he’s going, I have been there at 10000 feet. I think down to that driver and wonder, who is in the cab? Does he have a passenger? What music is playing, what is he seeing in front of him that I cannot? What have I seen that he cannot? So many intersecting lives, from on the ground to up in the air, we observe and thus, we effect. I wonder, would my view from up here really change the course of someone down there? Am I really in the right place at the right time, in order to affect the change that needs to happen…there?
I imagine that the driver of that truck is dark haired, dark skinned, listening to streaming Spanish music, his muscular arms and hands gripping the plastic steering wheel and shifting foot to brake, to gas, and to brake again, as he urgently bounces on degraded asphalt in his bid to get across the bridge before evening traffic. He has no passenger. The windows are open, the cool fog-less night of the San Francisco Bay pushing out the smell of stale plastic floor mats. The sun is setting and streams of dust motes flicker golden on the slightly chipped windshield. All this from ten thousand feet. I wonder if I have created that or did it exist somewhere in time captured from memory or dream?
How much do our thoughts create? How wide and how vast does the energy of thought take our world? There’s the argument that there is an objective reality and that anything our thoughts provide in the way of backdrop is just that – window dressing on a world that exists as it is. Perhaps that is true. Perhaps the only reality that we can perceive is that which resides within our minds. Our minds take the sensory input of the world and through a creative process of interpretation based on experience, history, and knowledge we come up with a distinct version of the world that is ours alone. Does that mean it is reality? Perhaps, and perhaps not. What is reality anyway? Maybe this is a topic for another, less-tired moment in my life.
For now, I sip coffee and muse about the universe that is the one I know. I can create all kinds of dramas in my own mind to keep me amused. Maybe like a Twilight Zone episode, someday I’ll find out what I have created. Until then, another Americano, please.