#80 Coffee with John

An introspection more than a takeaway….

A season of wind chimes. The wind making its way through them, creating music, movement, and ripple effects on each imaginary chime highlighting a season – a happy, brief, beautiful season of romantic entanglement. The impact reverberates still with residuals of the wind occasionally swishing the inner chimes of space.

People come into our lives, enhancing and redirecting our lives to new roads and journeys. Their passing through our lives, like the wind, moves us to new directions, ventures, and destinations. Their influence – as well as ours on them- perhaps will never be fully known to either. Meditation, new books, different perspectives in life, and hobbies adapted into my life have all been shaped by different seasons of entanglements.

The space and length of time shared with a person might not matter. It could be years, months, weeks, or minutes shared in the crossing of paths but, in the end, the interactions leave a mark. Ultimately, the decision of how a person affects you is up to to you. Not denying the love, hurt, or other strong emotions that a person can elicit. Still, their season in your life, if ended or just at the start, can provide you with invaluable lessons about yourself, marking new paths for your development and happiness.

As I rushed out from Coffee with John #80 following a new path brought upon by past interactions and outcomes of a season(s) long gone, I wondered what other lessons I have yet to experience and mysteries to uncover by unexpected/surprising encounters with people from my past and those I have yet to meet.

#79 Coffee with John, Virtual Edition

Gratefulness comes to mind as the takeaway for this installment of CWJ.

I am blessed to have family, friends, and people in my life that genuinely care and have and continue to be there for me and my kiddo with their love, kindness, and friendship.

My coffee mate for this round is among those special angels. She is my cuña, my sister-in-law. Over the years, we have gotten along well. What truly solidified our bond transpired a month or two before Lari – my wife, her sister – left this plane to roam and dance in the outer cosmos.

Leaving her family and hectic life back in Florida, my cuña came on separate times to spent time with us, helping us while we were in the thin-and-thick of things. Aside from helping with the day-to-day functions of the house, more importantly, she was there for Lari, my kid, and myself.

During those separate occasions, we shared moments of laughter amid a difficult period for all of us. The bond she built with my kid at the time continues today. The following summer after Lari passed, she and her family took my kid on a vacation to the Dominican Republic that he still recalls fondly.

All those thoughts and more came to mind last week or so when we shared a conversation over coffee for an “official” CWJ.

I was left feeling grateful. Lean on the power of gratefulness and cherish those that bring that light into your life.

#78 Coffee with John, Virtual Edition

Last week or so, through Bumble Bizz, I had a virtual CWJ with a young man from Ninety Six (yes, 96!), a town in Greenwood County, South Carolina with a population of roughly 2,000 people. That hour long conversation inspired the following write-up:

As part of rituals, war, ceremonies, religious traditions, or disguises, masks have formed part of society since ancient times.

More than ever, masks are ubiquitous and part of our daily wardrobe.

No matter if you are donning an actual mask or not, we all wear an invisible mask, projecting into the world a persona. Behind that invisible mask, the insecurities, emotional scars, fears, and the many qualities and idiosyncrasies that make us, us.

We hide behind our masks, often not letting people see our true selves to our own detriment. The persona we put out sometimes actually conceals our bravery, confidence, and humanity – all the attributes we all want to project.

The takeaway: we can best serve ourselves by putting away the mask/persona we project into the world to let our true selves soar. We can learn from embracing our vulnerability, self-doubts, and go for what we want despite all that can hold us back.

PS: if you are curious to know more about this intriguing resident of 96, I encourage you to visit his website: https://www.deshaunwilliamsindustries.com/

#77 Coffee with John

Do places hold positive/negative energy? Do certain spots possess magical qualities affecting our moods?

I have certainly experienced the energy flow of certain places. Two recent places come to mind. The first, Tayrona National Park, in northern Colombia. The other,
Latta Nature Center and Preserve
. I am not going to tell you what I experienced but I definitely felt the vibrations of those places.

In this last round, as we were wrapping up, my coffee mate invited me to sit at a trunk/bench located in Freedom Park to see if I felt the energy of this magical spot for her.

That experience brings me to my takeaway: no matter how much you might try, you will never be able to experience or understand a person’s perspective or how they see and experience the world around them.

The question is how much are you willing to lean on trying to understand their viewpoint without a desire to change their minds or impose your own experience on them?

Some issues, circumstances, situations are easy to let go of your perspective and jump into the viewpoint of the other person. Other issues, well, not so easy to lean on, especially these days.

Hatred, racism, violence, bigotry, and arrogance are issues I have no room to lean on. Nor could I try to understand those driven by those forces. Still, for the most part, we do a disservice when we close ourselves without at least hearing and putting ourselves in the shoes of those we love and within our community.

I know I have, as of recent, been guilty of imposing my own feelings and perspectives when I should have spoken less and just sat and reflected for a moment where the other person was at the time with their feelings and emotions.

Perhaps, if we try to lean on and see the world as others see – without judgment and with more empathy – we can at least come to new understandings about ourselves while providing the space for others to be heard and be seen.

#76 Coffee with John, Virtual Edition

After running around and almost not making it, I am glad I had the chance to connect with coffee mate #76, a connection from Virginia via Bumble Bizz.

Seems like the meeting happened ages ago. What is clear is how grateful I am to be able to connect with strangers and share a moment.

It’s intriguing to delve into conservation without any preconceived notions, intentions, or agenda, letting the flow of the dialogue take you in different directions leading to newfound knowledge. Like, do you know about Victoria Falls in Zambia? Or about the Stratosphere drop in Vegas? Or about endometriosis?

I didn’t know about any of those things, bringing me to my takeaway: we go around thinking we know stuff but in reality, we are only scratching the surface. The world is full of stories, universes, and knowledge we have yet to grasp, experience, and taste.

During our conversation, we talked about two column lists. On one side, the column of things to accomplish and experience in this lifetime. The other, the column of accomplished adventures/experiences/activities. I can add to that second column new things learned born out of a conversation with strangers — the list is long.

What would you like to add to your second column?

PS: If you want to learn more about endometriosis, I encourage you to follow on Instagram the story of Manda

PSS: No. This is not Victoria Falls but it is a picture from that same day when I had CWJ #76. So it seems fitting to include it:

Not Enough Coffee

Apparently, I did not have enough coffee when I had setup my email/contact section, putting a wrong email address. I have corrected my mistake. If you had tried contacting before me with no reply to your messages, I apologize. Those messages are now lost somewhere in the ether. My apologies.

Here is the correct contact info with more alternatives of how you may reach me:

Instagram @jmml2

Facebook: @150Coffeewithjohn

Email: 150coffeewithjohn@gmail.com

#75 Coffee with John

Coffee with John #75 represents the half-way point to meeting my goal of the number of people I want to meet for CWJ.

Two years since I began this project. Half-way point towards an end, new beginnings, new adventures.

It has taken me two years to arrive at this milestone. From the start, I have had in mind 150 individual meetings with different people each time. Why this number? 150 is known as Dunbar’s number. Based on his theory, we can only maintain about 150 connections at once. I read about Dunbar’s theory around the time Facebook was becoming widespread; the concept has stuck with me.   

I am in no rush to meet my goal. If I meet the goal in the next month, a year, or the next, I am fine with it. The people I have met along the journey have come into my life at the appropriate time.

Coffee-mate for CWJ #75 is a prime example. I could have not, even if  I wanted to, chosen this bold, bright, bodacious, beauteous woman to be the perfect candidate to reach my half-way point.

The many reasons for this abound. In addition to being part of my water season, the other main reason actually brings me to my takeaway: how many lives have you lived in your lifetime?

Where are you in your seasons of life? Half-way point? At the beginning? At the end of an old one? Would you even know where you are? How many versions have you reincarnated, knowingly and consciously? Are you living a different life than you were a few years back? Are you ready to take on a new life? How different are you from the person you were 3, 10 years ago. Would you recognize your past self?

As a widower, single parent, and an empty nester, I am living a whole new life, different from three or four years ago, or even just a year ago. I have experienced new adventures, met new people, traveled (when that was a thing), and expanded my horizons, adopting along the way new habits like meditating and listening to podcasts – did you know podcasts are a thing?

Life circumstances direct or redirect our life paths, giving us no choice but to adapt to new realities imposed by forces beyond our control. Like now, we are all living a new reality, bringing a season of uncertainty and shadows into our lives. Still, other times, we have a saying in the direction where we have free choice in taking that first step into our new lives. We take action and create our own new reality. We have the power to reinvent ourselves.    

I might be half-way point into meeting my goal for this project, but in many ways, I am just at the beginning. I don’t know where it will lead me and that excites me. And so in life. I don’t know where I will be in a year or two. But I am excited about the possibilities.  I am in a new version of my life, not the one I had chosen but one I am embracing full-on.

#74 Coffee with John

Inspired by the conversation, what follows is what 
CWJ #74 brought about: 

Disrupt
       create
construct 
       canalize
deconstruct 
        alchemize
mistrust
   Intellectualize 

Who are you? 
How do you see the world? 
How does the world see you?  

Erupt
   rationale applies 
Entrust 
    self-analyze
Defunct  
    crystallize
exult 
    Man arrives 

Perceptions come - discover new ones
Conclusions go - question the directions 
World views erupt - keep grounded 

#9
#4


 

#73 Coffee with John

The best number is 73. Why? 73 is the 21st prime number. Its mirror, 37, is the 12th and its mirror, 21, is the product of multiplying 7 and 3.” Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory

I don’t know what makes 73 the best number. It could be that it holds a special spot for me as some of the best people, ahem, have been born under the auspiciousness of the year of the OX.

But I am digressing. Coffee with John 73 does fall under an auspicious and magical one, solidifying and cementing my season of water for various reasons. 

The most obvious – and the one I will share here -is that since then I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to share in my friend’s passion for paddle-boardinghitting the water once a week. Truly feel grateful to soak in the chance.

Sharing your passion, talent, good fortunes and yourself are what I took away from this last CWJ. My coffee mate for this round – an artist, social activist, and community leader – shares her artistry, her commitment to causes she believes in, and her passion for paddle-boarding, freely inviting friends to join her at her lake house to use her extra boards. Also, she occasionally shares and gives access to her lakefront to people to use.

What have you shared? How have you enriched other’s life by sharing your good fortunes? 

We don’t all have lake houses, paddle boards, or have artistic talents but we can all make a difference in someone’s life by giving something of ourselves to others. It can be volunteering, sharing your smile, giving your time to talk to an old friend, and performing other simple randoms acts of kindness that can brighten and bring light to other people. We all have riches and talents to share.