Saturday, November 13, 2010

Escape from Starbucks

It's a dark, Saturday afternoon at a Starbucks in Chicago. I'm sitting in a comfortable chair near the door, and the place is buzzing with activity: the occasional blast of chilly air as someone enters or exits the door; the whirs and whines of blenders and other electric-powered devices preparing our coffee drinks with their 16-syllable names, and the incessant chatter that some individuals nearly yell into their cell phones. Above me, a recording of piano music from a Peanuts TV special plays a cheery little tune. That music bears the strong imprint of Vince Guaraldi's style.

In a different time and place, that music might carry me away to some boyhood memory of being fascinated by the adventures of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, and the awful, squawking voice who was supposed to be the teacher in a school classroom. Today, however, my reverie is broken by these damned people who are arguing with someone at the other end of their mobile phones. Damn, why do they always have to yell and argue into those phones about the most inane crap? Don't they realize I don't give a rat's ass about what Keesha, Jack, or some third party did or is doing, and how awful it supposedly is?!?

Alas, there's no cause for worry because my silent, mini-rant itself is being interrupted by a man seated--like I am--in a single chair, his being just a few feet from mine. My beef with this guy? He's listening to something via headphones, reading a book, eating, and talking to himself--all at the same time. I sigh deeply as that audible self-talk triggers frightening memories in me. I have an uncle who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia; he used to talk to himself a lot, too. It's an unpleasant sight. When I stop and practice mindfulness, I can see my thoughts in mid-flight. The memory really is a lot worse than what is happening in the present moment.

I’m thinking of leaving. After all, laundry waits for me at home. I’ve let it pile up so long that I even have to wash workout clothes, if I want to get to fight club tomorrow morning. I hate to leave, because I want to learn how to deal with aversion without running away from it. At the same time, I’ve learned a little from this experience, even if I’m not working with aversion in the best way.

I try to keep an open mind about and be kind to people who suffer from mental illness; I am working to make things better for them. The man next to me just returned with a sandwich, and he’s complaining to himself: “My meat went dark…” Agh!

Dang, now on the recorded radio stream, that wretched “Me and Mrs. Jones” song has started playing. Bleh. Since I was a boy, I’ve hated that obnoxious little ditty that seems to glorify adultery and extra-marital affairs. That’s it; I can’t take anymore. I’m leaving.
A few minutes later, I arrive home to my toasty-warm apartment. Are there any football games on tonight?

1 comment:

Fran said...

Hey Steve

Very interesting site! I've been working with quite a lot with guys such as yourself (I'm a long time boxer and coach) and have created a site with lots of boxing skills and techniques. Maybe you can get that little step ahead of the competition! Anyways, i know it's a bit of an imposition, but I'd be really interested in your views on the stuff I've pressure though! Great blog mate!