It happens with a bit of cautious anticipation and latent expectation when these urges come upon me to abandon the agenda for the day and take off on an errand or an unspecified destination. It happened this morning. A restlessness hit me with just a hint of urgency so I showered and changed to enter the world beyond my doorstep. The new projects for the back room, the scouring of the toilet and the religious but profitable session of exercise were abandoned without hesitation. I needed to go to the library.
I settled down in a chair meant for comfort with a stack of three books. The author of one I have only recently discovered. His writing style I very much enjoy. His genre I am still processing as to whether it is for me. I am unfamiliar with the author of the book I chose to begin reading while at the library. I chose the book simply based on the cover. It displayed a replica of a painting by Jack Vettriano.
After an hour’s time invested in the book, I was on the move again, feeling still a bit restless with a vague prodding of agitation. On the way to the main desk to check out, I was lost in thought, not particularly focused on my surroundings. Suddenly there was a woman standing directly in front of me, offering–no, demanding–that she carry my books to the main desk. Grace and humility were not the resources I tapped into. I usually meet the challenge of demanding personalities with obstinate tenacity and/or “hamility“. The woman looked a bit confused and taken aback when I turned away her good deed but she was not to be deterred. After a few minutes of games and manipulation, she walked away allowing me to go ahead with my business. I chatted with the desk clerk as she processed the books and on my way I went.
Leaving the library with an increasingly raucous stomach, reminding me that I had not yet had breakfast, I headed in the opposite direction of my home. I remembered that there was a newly opened bookstore/coffee shop downtown. It was now half past the noon hour and I promised myself I would not linger there long. When there is plenty of food at home, it feels like a waste of time and money to stop for the same elsewhere.
The name of the store and the design of the sign hint at the New Age movement. Upon entering the premises, the decor and ambience are of Old World influence, a decidedly European atmosphere. All the furniture bearing marks of soundness typical of antiques showed signs of gentle use. It takes me back to a certain place and time in England. With mixed feelings, I continued to browse the bookshelves and take note of the menu. I had a wee chat with the owner. Without much conviction or excitement, I placed my order for today’s special. I sat waiting for my something-something soup and Asian salad combo wondering why, since I had mixed feelings, was I placing an order for food. To deepen the puzzle even more, I retrieved from my car the book I had begun to read while at the library.
When I finished the soup and salad, I moved from the table to one of the two Queen Anne ball and claw foot wingback chairs upholstered in emerald-green velvet, strategically placed in the corner by the storefront window. A black marble-topped table separated the two, an intimate and inviting setting. I adjusted the red velvet cushion to the best place against my back and resumed reading my new book. It was not long before the aroma of hot pastries bursting to life filled the small space. I placed an order for whatever was baking in the oven as well as for a pot of English breakfast tea. As with the combo earlier, I was not disappointed with the tea or bite sized pastries–the latter of which were consumed all too quickly but the pot of tea yielded a second cup. The owner/chef came out to ask my opinion of the pastries, one of which she provided free of charge and asked me to be a taste tester. We chatted a bit more, sharing a few details of our personal stories. I settled back in decadent comfort to resume reading. Other customers trickled in and out in pairs and groups as time passed.
A customer came in singly and promptly placed an order. Instead of browsing through the bookshelves while his order was being filled, he asked if he could join me and took possession of the second wingback chair. Our conversation was not of strangers discussing the weather and the price of fuel. The restlessness left me and Peace wrapped about me in a gentle caress. Our conversation rambled but not without depth, insight and affirmation. He shared from the wisdom of living about people in general and ferry time specifically.
He had learned of ferry time while traveling with his wife. They were leaving their destination that morning and needed to catch a ferry for the return home. After an offhanded comment to their server at breakfast of his concern of “not missing the ferry”, the server kindly admonished him that he shouldn’t be concerned with “not missing the ferry” as the ferry ran every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day. She explained that ferry time was a phrase the locals used to refer to those times that force us to wait for things beyond our control (like the coming and going of a ferry). It is from those ferry times in our life that we come to appreciate what is most valuable and become fully present and living in the moment instead of driving/striving/pushing/running toward what is ahead, missing what we have been reaching for all along.
From the comfort of a plush claw footed wingback chair in the corner of an eclectic bookstore, I reaped the benefits of ferry time. I witnessed a man at peace with life and comfortable with himself. I reaped the benefits of investing time in a healthy soul–simply by embracing ferry time and abandoning the agenda for the day.