I feel exposed, curious, even flattered by his stare. It is the prospect of what could come next that shakes me. Nothing but his being there has happened. His attention after a few fleeting minutes is diverted. Another man walks by and they discuss business together.
Sitting alone in the coffee shop, my notebook, novel and pen filling the tiny squared table and I am there, part of a larger landscape, sitting, wondering, giving this man meaning. I didn’t even know his name, I only knew what he was capable of: a flirtatious gesture, a conversation beginning with “what are you reading?”, “what are you writing about?”. By the time I conjured the imaginary scenario in my head he was already occupied with another nameless stranger.
I wondered what he felt while his gaze fell over me. This anonymous man had me under a spell when he, I can only assume, is a spectator of my outwardly appearance — and that’s the rub. Anxiety breeds power and persuasion over those who I think are judging, calculating or “figuring me out”. I build tension to a series of events that never actually happen. My vanity spoiled the moment.
Anxiety knocks at our door without invitation. At the coffee shop on a Tuesday afternoon or at any given place at any given time. Whether we choose to ignore the call or let it consume us from living in the present moment, we will always be forgiven by learning to cope.
Paulo Coelho wrote in The Alchemist, “I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man.”
Happiness pauses. Happiness doesn’t ruminate or plan. Happiness breathes. So go ahead and light a candle. Smell the roses. Mediate. Practicing being mindful and ever present with yourself. Cope. We can deal. No, we can do more than that. We can heal.