About 6 weeks ago, Joe and the Art of Coffee opened on the Upper West Side. It has become my daily habit to wake early and arrive just as they are opening, order a large cup of their featured coffee, and then sit, journal write, study Italian, do whatever strikes my fancy as a creative warm-up. By 9:00 am, I am back home ready and excited to work on my music.
What has become a by-product of this daily ritual, is something I could never have imagined; an increasing flow of amazing people in my life. Every day I seem to meet someone new, learn more about a person whom I have said “Hi” in passing so often, or deepen a friendship started just by bumping up against each other while drinking coffee.
I’ve met a brilliant playwright, a German artist, mothers and fathers with their kids (lots of kids – after all this is the Upper West Side), and dogs. And then the baristas! They each have stories; photographers, musicians, writers, coffee afficianados, it’s truly wonderful. I wonder how I ever lived without this? It is my ritual – to just be among people and see what happens. If it’s quiet, wonderful! Time for myself. If someone sits down and chats, fabulous! I learn more about another person and am always delighted.
Today after Joe’s, I went to the gym. While working out on a stair mill, I began to feel very sad and anxious. I thought this odd as I was supposedly increasing my endorphins. Then I realized, I was plugged into the television! I was being bombarded by images of “perfect celebrities” of advertisements of products which supposedly made you “cool,” by news and gossip that was ridiculous and sensationalistic, not real at all, and by programs of “entertainment ” which were just anesthetizing vehicles broken up by over-stimulated marketing ads. Finally my brain clicked. It must have been during the commercial for buying a TV/DVD/Cable package. I thought, “My God! How did we come to live our lives in such a non-real environment? Do we know what a real person looks like anymore? How did we become a society where our thoughts and emotions are toyed with daily by an industry whose main purpose is to get us to open our pocket books? Buy this because it’s cool. Buy that because it will make you better, skinny, more attractive, hipper. etc.”
I think about Joe’s. No wonder I go there everyday. It is in the coffee shops that real people gather and talk to each other. Not sports bars, not clubs, not concerts or movie theaters, not even church. Ideas are exchanged, thoughts are examined, real people smack up against each other – your neighbors – and for $2, not hundreds, you can sit as long as you want, no rush, and live real.