Friday, October 29, 2010

If I were in Paris... Friday, October 29, 2010

The point of cafes is... nothing.

Well, that's a dramatic statement but in some ways very true. I am stting here, now, in a coffee spot in the Big D with a friend, and we're working. She has her laptop, her iPad, her keyboard, her Blackberry... all on. And she's listening to music (I think) through her headphones connected to said iPad.

I have my laptop, my iPod (playing Philip Glass's soundtrack for The Hours), and my phone.

I see 3 folks on laptops, with phones or headphones. Another 2 with notebooks, writing and scratching; one is doing Bible study.

Two women with children chatting... and five people in line for take-away coffee.

If I were in Paris, I might have my laptop, but more likely a book or notebook, scratching away not at "work" of any kind but... whatever. I would certainly be enjoying the people passing by or my book, but I would not be texting, or wifi-ing. I might be talking on my phone (Parisians are even more likely to be doing this, as Europeans have said "ciao!" to landlines long ago).

The "point" however is no point. Time spent... not doing nothing, which suggests wasting time, but actually putting time to good use for replenishing, considering, observing the world and the people in it, and enjoying time. Rather than rushing through it.

These are not new thoughts--even for me--because when I first returned from Paris, I was struck anew at our "cafes" (read this older post on my former blog!). But even here in the Big D there are few places one can sit and watch... let's face it: Starbucks is not exactly Paris, which is why Parisians hate the chain's invasion in their city. It is faux-Paris.

Don't get me wrong: I love me some American cafe where I can get good coffee, meet a friend, and do work. But I do not fool myself that it is the same, just different.

I miss "just" sitting. "Just" reading. "Just" people-watching. Sigh.

1 comment:

  1. I just got back from people-watching in Paris. I find cafe society here in Toronto is just irksome because, as you've pointed out, everyone's typing away furiously like the next Hemingway, but no-one's enjoying life.

    Cafes in Paris have a unique place as most people inhabit the tiniest of apartments. They need a place to get away from the four walls.

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