A normal encounter
The meaningful insignificant.
One early morning I went to this cafe that I usually visit, but first I wanted to use the bathroom inside so I headed there first. A few steps in and I saw someone moving towards the sink to wash their hands. In a matter of milliseconds and before I fully recognize them they said “hi”.
Now, I was caught off guard. When I was getting near the bathroom I had one objective: transmit my urine to the toilet bowl. I was walking with a relative above average speed and I was focused on entering to one of the stalls to conclude my objective, and in the meanwhile and as usual I was daydreaming about something else, like how I should learn to make tacos today. I did not expect anyone to be there. Who was he anyway?
As a consequence, I responded with a rushed “hi” immediately right before I finally recognize him. He’s the one working in the cafe. He’s one of the barista guys. He’s the one making my coffee. But at this point I was already walking and I had passed him a few inches where it would position him right behind me and it was too late to make further interactions. Here’s a quick diagram to help you visualize the situation:
As soon as I went inside the stall and started unzipping my pants, and as he was washing his hands, a thought appeared in my head out of nowhere. Is he thinking about me right now? Is he thinking to himself that this guy is going to lose liquids right now so I bet that he’s going to come here and order some coffee or water from us?
I couldn’t stop smiling because of the silliness of the thought, of thinking that him, a human being, an intelligent creature, ever actually think of something this small and insignificant and in case if it’s true, then something maybe even self-evident and obvious in the unconscious mind. Smiling because of me, and the overthinking of this casual encounter.
I’ve been following and reading a number of blogs lately. People write about in-depth life lessons, comprehensive business advices, stories of years of failures and successes, fairy tales, faith and technical posts where you need to open dozens of other articles, wikipedia pages and references to understand them.
But me, my last blog post was around 2 years ago, so I decided to see if I can I write one about one of most ordinary interactions that ever that happened in history inside a bathroom and the following the most nonsensical thoughts ever about it.
The silliness aside, the main thing for me to write this blog post though was this question that do people ever think about the trivial “unimportant” things that happen in everyday life? Things that we do or repeat unconsciously every day without ever actually being aware on why or how we’re doing them? Things that we take for granted and forget about them because we are so carried away by our daily duties and routines.
What I find is that observing carefully and being mindful on what we are doing or what is happening around us to be a form of meditation and a form of reminder of our place and our role in the universe. The more trivial the thing, the more profound the perspective.
And I know that the instance I wrote about of course is the most obnoxious example one could make, (and yes I have tons of them) and could be even a bit unrelated, but I tried to see how far I can go by expanding one of the most negligible things I could find.
The other day I accidentally came across this little poem named “the geometry of a sandwich” by Ron Padgett:
if you make a sandwich
using two pieces of traditional American sandwich bread
and slice it diagonally
you end up with two right triangles.
well, technically one of them is not a triangle,
since where its right angle should be
look at the sandwich:
the two halves look different.
the difference is a very small thing to notice,
so small as to be useless
in the great rush of life.
I feel sorry for its smallness.
Things, including us humans are like sandwich pieces with imperfect triangles. The sandwich is lonely. It is lost and forgotten in the vastness of this indifferent universe and is waiting to be noticed by someone, somewhere.
Maybe the smallness is a sign of our condition, of how whatever we have is momentary and short-lived. A reminder on how every little moment is precious and is waiting to be cherished and not to be forgotten.
Maybe our most important purpose and responsibility in life as humans is to just simply care in a universe that is desperately looking for someone or something to do so and because perhaps we’re the only ones that can. To care about ourselves, each other, the little plants that are seeding and the angle of our sandwiches.
Oh right, the barista guy. After the bathroom collision, I ordered coffee there and I saw that they also sell coffee beans. I spent a few minutes discussing the beans with him and somewhere he mentioned that he knows me since he’s seen me come here before, so I can grab these coffee beens and try them and later when I come back here again he would ask me if I’ve liked them.
I wondered to myself “He knows me?”. Last time I was here was a month ago. And even before that I’d only come here once a week at most. How can anyone remember me? I thought I’m keeping it low-key, I thought I’m a shadow that grabs a coffee, sits in a corner and leaves after a short while without even having an eye contact with a living thing.
But it could be the case we’re not as much as a ghost as we think. Perhaps people that we never had even a close interaction with think of us more than what we usually imagine, just like when we think of a person without that person ever realizing it.
The god why is this post taking too long what am I even rambling about at this point.
We’re small and we do small things every day but that’s mostly what we’re made of. They may seem insignificant, but that doesn’t mean that they are not meaningful. We can give life and keep moments or things alive by simply noticing them mindfully and not let them to be forgotten so easily.
P.S. I replaced “thing” with “shit” to see how it reads, the result was interesting.