By Kenneth Justice
~ This morning I woke up on the bus at 5:30 and looked out the window at the sun rising over the city of St. Paul, Minnesota. I’ve never been to Minneapolis before and am here on the latest leg of my Drinking in the Culture Tour, my excuse to get out of the daily grind and experience coffee culture all across the Western World.
Traveling to different cities every weekend often feels like a never ending dream. Do you know that in between stage of sleep and being awake? When you’re not really sure if you’re dreaming or your eyes are open? Where sounds in the background could be the morning birds chirping or the sea gulls from your dream still buzzing in your ears. When I was younger I called it the ‘in between world’, the only moment in the day when the characters in your dreams merged with real life and anything could happen. That’s how I felt this morning as I watched the sun rise over the city of St. Paul, and then Minneapolis (the two cities are within a stone’s throw of each other).
I fell asleep in Chicago the night before and awoke to an entirely new place with different streets, people, and sensations.
The taxi driver who drove me to the coffee shop this morning was born in India and has been living in Minneapolis for seventeen years. His English was terrible and that made the adventure all the more adorable. Yet while he struggled to engage me in conversation, his math was perfect,
“how much to get to this address” I asked him
“$12 – $15 dollars” he said
And when the taxi pulled up to Bull Run Coffee the meter was exactly as he anticipated, “$12.95” it read.
Already this morning I’ve met a lovely young woman who was born in Vienna and is bursting with a passion for coffee house culture. She’s typical of everyone I’ve met along my journey this year, young adults and old who love connecting with people and sharing stories and experiences.
Each weekend I have the option to interview coffee shop owners or to simply hang out in the city and experience who ever I meet and ends up sitting at my table. This weekend I decided to take a break from interviews and to merely enjoy each moment…..I think I prefer it this way, never knowing what kind of conversations I will have or who I will meet.
There’s a lot of great quotes on the Internet if you Google “the art of traveling” and as my year long journey continues I’ve been realizing that nobody else can really define traveling for me; ultimately each of us must figure out what it means to travel and experience the world around us. Too often we get caught up in busyness.
Professor Richard Weaver wrote, “The whole tendency of modern thought, one might say its whole moral impulse, is to keep the individual busy with endless induction”
Isn’t that so true though? Busyness and endless induction; constantly overwhelmed with thoughts that keep us from truly seeing, experiencing, and feeling the world around us.
The art of traveling for me is about slowing down, stopping for a moment in a strange city to enjoy a cup of coffee and see the people passing by. Being open to new experiences, new people, new conversations, and expecting both the unexpected and the expected.
Coffee shops and cafes are the perfect accompaniment to travel. The people who hang out at them are almost always warm and engaging. They thrive on connecting with people from far-away. They enjoy sharing stories about life in different cities as they compare and contrast the unique elements of our varied lives.
The sun is fully up here in Minneapolis and for now I’m going to just enjoy this day with a sense of thankfulness and wonderment at how big this world really is…..
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning here in Minneapolis,
Categories: Culture & Society