I am sitting in a Starbucks right now. The people around me are typing away on their computers. Scrolling through their phones and generally not wanting to interact. Every once in a while I see a couple of people come in during a break from the office building next door. They chat with each other while they are here but they don’t stick around.
I wonder what is going on in the lives of the people around me that led them to isolate from the rest of the world in the solitude that comes with a coffee shop. Maybe they are here because it is the only place they have to get some work done without someone asking something of them. Maybe they just want to feel like they are a part of something, anything, but there is no way they are willing to risk going to a place where they may be turned away. Starbucks is a safe place. Maybe they just needed a cup of coffee and there is nothing more to it than that.
I wonder if any of these people are here against all odds? Maybe they have agoraphobia and the fact that they are in this place at all is a testament to their incredible strength. This make me want to go around high fiving people yelling out “I’m proud of you! Good job.”
Maybe someone is here because they are trying to hide from someone. There is a responsibility that is being pushed aside; amends that are refusing to be made. Who did they hurt that they don’t want to face? What did they do that is so terrible that facing the other person is so hard? It makes me want to go around yelling out, “Face it before it’s too late!” Maybe someone is here because they are processing the thing they wanted to say but never got the chance to say. Regret is painful.
I wonder if there is anyone here who is waiting for their appointment that is coming up any moment. What are they feeling? Are they excited because they are waiting for a job interview at a place they have always wanted to work? Are they nervous because they are waiting to talk to their doctor about what to do with the diagnosis? Are they wondering what they will tell their loved ones? Will it be good or will it be bad?
I see a couple of guys that just walked in. They look like they came right from the gym. They earned that latte!! Something I have not done.
This place makes me wonder. There is a safety that can be found here. It pains me when I think of the men in Philadelphia who lost that safety and were arrested because the color of their skin made them suspect. They don’t know the safety I take for granted.
This place makes me wonder why I don’t wonder more. Everywhere I go I see people doing their thing. Living their lives and I don’t think about them at all. Why don’t I think about them? I should. Everyone has a story. But how many people never get to tell their story because I wasn’t willing to look up from my phone long enough to hear it? How many people in this world have been told that their story doesn’t matter? Told so many times that they now believe it. Even though it isn’t true. It makes me want to run around yelling, “Your story matters! You matter!”
But I don’t. I sit here keeping to myself because that is what is socially acceptable. But I can’t be ok with that. I just can’t. God help me to not be ok with that. Give me the chance to hear their story. And help me to share yours.
National Director of Mental Health for Celebrate Recovery