CREDOS: Doing nothing — II

Roger Housden

It means you are here to stay, at least in the short term. It means you are likely to be around for as much as the next half hour; that you are willing to be part of the quiet bustle and spectacle of the café terrasse. A café offers one of life’s rare opportunities to happily do nothing in the company of others who are also doing nothing more useful than sipping coffee.

Café life, without question, is one of the more enjoyable benefits of civilization. You can sit at your table for half an hour or more and watch the world go by, all for the price of a cup of coffee-or tea, if that is your preference. It’s about the sitting there, hearing snatches of conversation, having your own thoughts, being aware of the other customers around you, watching the passerby, eavesdropping on the waiter’s repartee. You may seem to be sitting there innocently sipping, but all the time you may be preoccupied with waiting:

not just being there, but waiting for a certain amount of time to pass.

When you sit there and do nothing in particular at all — no waiting, no Palm Pilot, no cell phone, no agenda, nothing that will get you anywhere anytime soon — then a space can open up in your mind. Thoughts can float by without the habitual impulse to jump on their back and ride them for all they are worth. It may even happen that the taste of coffee gives way to the taste of yourself — the delicious relief of being-in-yourself.