Engrossed in my book, I fail to notice the swarm of people around me, as they unburden their loads of books onto the nearby tables while precariously trying not to spill their coffee.

Never leaving the world of fiction, I subconsciously notice the aroma of the deep roast of coffee mingled with the occasional whiff of danishes and pastries. Senses heightened, I delve deeper into the pages of the hardcover book I’m reading.

Eyes hardly glancing from the page, I reach methodically for my coffee, touching it to my lips. It isn’t until some time later that I lift my cup for another swallow and  notice I have ran out. I mentally note the page I am on and at the same time, transport myself from the wild tales of the ocean, the sunken trip, and the occasional gunfight back to reality.

The real world isn’t so bad either, I note, drinking in the romance and charisma of the Barnes and Nobles coffee shop. Silently reading, many people sit around me lost in various worlds probably like the one I had abruptly been interrupted from.

Instead of complaining loudly, I began to view the faces of the people around me. Against the far wall sits an older man, his scarf still hanging loosely around his neck, although his coat hangs on the chair next to him. Adjacent to him perches a small high-society lady, her face wrinkled as though she is puzzled by the delicacy cookbook she is reading, probably preparing herself to impress the other ladies at her upcoming tea party. A college kid is clearly doing research, judging by the stack of  “how-to” books situated next to him. A middle aged couple glances through travel books, dreaming of Italy and the possibility of rekindling their love for each other on a needed getaway. Another old man, reading a history book, crosses his legs, causing his pant bottoms to pull up so high it exposes his white, hairless leg.

Each person is unique, and yet I feel a kinship toward each of them. Not a word has been spoken between us, but I catch the eye of many of them and they smile pleasantly back through glassy eyes. They won’t remember me. But I feel like I know them. After all, we all love books. We all love coffee. These are my people–even the guy whose pant leg has crawled up even further, his ghostly leg blinding the eyes of anyone daring enough to stare at it.

What is the reason for this post? Would you be surprised if I were to tell you I don’t know?  But then again, does everything have to have a reason? These type of questions do not exist in a coffee shop. For just a few hours, we sit there together, captivated by our books while nursing our coffees, and the bustle of life ceases…

We remember our childhood dreams.

We fantasize of places we’ll never go.

We forget the stresses of life.

We breathe.

We live.

So I guess that’s what this post is all about: Learning to truly live in the here and now. Finding companionship in a bustling world. Learning to slow down. All of these things keep us sane in this insane world.

Well, that and coffee.

-Duane Scott

the ties that bind

by Duane Scott time to read: 3 min