Coffee Shop Comparisons

March 29, 2016

You’re sitting in a coffee shop, you’re sipping your favorite brew, and you have some variant of a book in front of you — maybe a Campbell Biology textbook (which you have every intention of studying), maybe the novel that you’ve been meaning to finish for the past six weekends, or maybe your journal which you’re absolutely determined to start writing in daily — starting tomorrow.

Coffee in one hand and book in the other, you’re positively poised for productivity, but…you’re really just people watching. Yes, you’re people watching — in a completely non-creepy manner, of course.

You stare long enough at the guy placing his order in his slightly disheveled flannel shirt and well-used leather combat boots to know that he knows more about coffee than you know about Biology, and just when you realize that he probably founded the hipster movement and that you want to be his best friend, he turns, you make eye contact, and you do the eye-dart that you think will effectively erase the fact that you’ve been staring at him for the past 5 minutes.

Admit it, you went to that coffee shop knowing that you would spend your time observing humanity and not pouring over endocrine signaling (or maybe it’s paracrine signaling). There’s nothing better than the dynamics of human interaction: the different personalities, the different styles, and the different smiles. Imagination starts doing its thing, and you envision that lady with the cultured air about her as a world traveler, and that man wearing confidence like a suit as a thriving entrepreneur from Manhattan.

But then, while your eyes are traveling and your mind whirling, you make eye contact once more, but this time the girl across the room with her journal in front of her and coffee in hand does the eye dart, and you realize that you were the subject of someone else’s people watching. Letting that sink in for a moment, you wonder what she imagined your life to be. You can’t help but feel that your current reality of essays on the Odyssey and lab reports on molar solubility is rather unexciting, but then…you remind yourself that perceptions aren’t always true to reality.

Maybe that man with a powerful gait has climbed to the top of Mount Everest or maybe he’s a construction worker who has developed his strength over a lifetime of hard labor. Maybe that woman with the kind eyes who seems to hug everyone in the coffee shop is blessed with overwhelming popularity or maybe she has been through enough in her life to know that sometimes an embrace can make a world of difference.

You might be a college student with a big dream and what feels like an eternity until you reach it, but the process, your development, should never be a source of negativity — your life in progress is what links you with humanity, while also creating the you that is exquisitely unique and exquisitely God’s.

You look down, you open your journal, and you write, “Comparison may be the thief of joy, but today, comparison may have been a revelation.”