I have found an unexpected benefit from this whole lockdown situation, and it involves coffee.
Prior to lockdown, I would get coffee from the hospital cafe on most days that I work. When lockdown rules came into place, they no longer allowed use of keep-cups. An understandable rule, but this has been one of the greatest disappointments of all.
At first, I continued to get take-away coffees, now in disposable cups, but eventually the guilt got to me. I decided to cut back.
Now and then, when I meet new people, and talk to them for a while, I am reminded of someone I already know. This doesn’t happen with every new person I meet, but I’ve been noticing it happening more and more. I’m not sure if this is just because I’ve already met enough people that everyone has some sort of similarity to someone else, or because I’m just taking more notice of small details in how people communicate — both their speech and body language.
In general, it’s not usually (or ever?) an exact match between the new person and the person I already know. It’s more of a vague impression that this person acts similarly to the other person in some way. It could be the slightest thing — difficult to pinpoint and describe — but it is enough to make me think of someone else.
It might be as simple as their inflection or tone of voice when they talk about something in particular. It could be an air of confidence or nervousness or some other emotion in their words and the way they carry themselves. Perhaps it’s even just the way they tilt their head or move their hands when they speak.
The other night, I went for a walk to visit my parents. I stayed for dinner and then walked back home. On my way over, I walked past a house where there was a small yappy dog in the front yard and, of course, it yapped its little head off at me as I walked past. This is a common enough occurrence in the neighbourhood that it doesn’t really faze me, but it was what happened on the way back that got me thinking.
As I turned the corner and headed up the same street where the little dog lived, I decided to cross the road in hopes of not antagonising the poor thing by my very existence. As I approached its abode, however, I noticed that there was a vehicle parked outside with its headlights still on, and, of course, that little dog was yapping away.
Probably a delivery person or a visitor of some sort, I thought as I approached. Surely it was someone who was not staying long, someone the dog wasn’t familiar with. In a sense, I was right.
For several weeks now, I have been thinking of this quote from Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, and I’ve been meaning to find it so that I could blog about it, but I either haven’t had time or, when I did have time, I just couldn’t find it.
During my first reading of Meditations (now a few years ago), I used some scrap paper to jot down some notes regarding noteworthy passages. For some of these, I copied out the passage (if it was short), and for some I simply noted the book and chapter numbers. I kept these scraps of paper as reminders — some within the pages of Meditations, and the rest on my bedside table. I had hoped that the quote I was thinking of would be on one of these but, alas, no luck.
But, no matter, I thought, there is a helpful index in the back of the copy I own, which can be used to find passages relating to various subject matter and concepts, so I tried this next. I pondered over words that might lead me to the passage, but these either did not take me to where I wanted to go, or they did not exist in the index.
As a last resort — or perhaps just a despairing effort — I flipped through to random pages, hoping to find it by pure luck or coincidence. (Keep in mind that I didn’t do all this searching in one day; it was spread over several weeks, whenever I thought of it and had time.) Unsurprisingly, this tactic proved fruitless too.
Last night, however, I was really determined to find it. I was so determined that I resolved to go through each entry in the index that was even remotely relevant, starting with A and working through the entire index to Z.