I sit down at a table in Starbucks, waiting for a friend. There’s a fairly scruffy guy probably in his mid-60’s sitting alone with his pack of cigarettes reading a newpaper at the table next to mine – greasy hair, messy sweatjacket, jeans and sneakers. He gets interrupted every so often by an emphysemic coughing jag that curls my toes. My seat is facing him, so I turn halfway in my chair and start reading a brochure so as to not to attract his attention. Soon I hear a weird sucking sound. He’s gulping at his coffee like an addict. He’s not letting me ignore him. We make eye contact and he starts our conversation –
Well, it sure is a nice, sunny Sunday morning!
– It sure is!
I bet it would be nicer if I weren’t here.
– W! Why!?
Because I look so bad and I can’t do anything right.
– Aw, well – you’re just not a morning person!
Do you ever get up, pour your coffee and just sit in front of the mirror and stare at yourself for a long time?
– No… I don’t like to look at myself in the morning – it’s not a pretty sight! I still have the creases in my face from the pillow and all… I need time to pull myself together in the morning – and I only did it today because I’m meeting a girlfriend here – believe me it takes a lot of work!
I’m not usually this talkative in the morning.
– Neither am I…
I usually just sit here and watch everybody.
– Yeah, I like to do that too – there’s a coffee shop in Red Bank where I enjoy to just sit with my paper and people watch.
Some mornings I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself – I don’t even know why I get up. I’m just lucky to be alive I guess.
– My father gets up early and it’s hard for him – he’s 85 –
Is he really! Wow!
– Yeah – he’s 85 and he never thought he’d live that long; I don’t think he has any idea how healthy he really is – he thinks he’s old and going to die any day, but he still plays golf four times a week –
Does he really!
– Yeah, well, he used to be a Marine – well – you don’t say “used to be” – he IS a Marine – he was in the Marines –
Oh, wow, you know the training that those guys get really… really stays with them their whole life. It’s like if they could just figure out what it is that those guys get out of that training – that’s all they would ever need to teach people.
– I think people learn…
But those guys – they got a job to do and they do it and that’s it.
– Yeah… that’s kind of a great way to look at life. I go to work, I don’t like it – I don’t like some of the people I have to work with, but I got a job to do and it’s up to me to do it.
I think you must have some of that Marine in you.
– You’re probably right about that…
Well, it’s been nice talking with you – I’m not going to talk your ear off this morning – you – you enjoy your life.
– Thank you – I’m glad you spoke to me today – you enjoy this beautiful day.
Thank you, miss. We’ll talk again sometime.
– I hope so. Thanks!
I have traded in my idealism in exchange for the moment. My idealism has tortured and mocked me long enough. I am done with it. Moments are all I really have. Moments are what I choose them to be. I can’t shape the future – I can only shape this moment. In this way I am giving both the future and all that I am to God.
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