I’ve had excellent coffee while living in Florence. Every barista who has served me has put sincerity into the espresso.
Coffee is so simple and so inexpensive, yet it adds much to my day. It contributes to my morning pleasure, my conversation with friends.
I admire the fact that there are baristas who are dedicated to the art of espresso. Interestingly, many who work in coffee bars here are among the best dressed in the city. The men were crisp button shirts, ties with dimples under the knot and linen aprons with intricate embroidery.
Too often the people who provide services that not only support the structure of our modern lives but the people who create the little joys in life are overlooked and dismissed as simply “laborers.”
It is ironic that many people value what they cannot have and ignore the value in what is at their fingertips.
A fresh haircut from a skilled barber, a proper shoeshine, well made espresso drinks, a knowledgable guide to the city….Regardless of social positions in the world, these seemingly insignificant services enhance our lives and add value.
We only adapt terminology we know. This is flawed for two reasons. The firsts is reason being the words and phrases we use are defined by others. The second is that we are in constant flux. The label we put on right now becomes irrelevant moments later.When we put labels on ourselves, we are imprisoning ourselves.
We might claim “I have anxiety. I am an anxious person” Is this factual? Does a person completely possess a state of being? Or is it a temporary experience?
“I have joy. I am always happy.” Is this true? Or is the moment a ripple in the lake of your existence. It is here then it is gone. The duration of time is inconsequential.
Why do we say these things? We do not know ourselves so adapting a definition, even from someone else gives us identity. And identity is a prison since it rejects new experiences and possibility. Identity paints over reality.
If someone tells you to think of a tree, a certain image comes to mind. If you look at an actual tree you see something different.
What would happen if we were to not take on any identity? What would we experience?
Without identity you would see yourself, your world, not as you believe, but as is the truth.
A cup of coffee in hand, I look out of my third floor apartment window. I hear the people of Florence below debating where to eat in between light drags on cigarettes.
There is an artistry native to this city. Women wear blazers as ornaments to be draped over their slim shoulders.
We gather at the cathedral steps to sit and worship the holy panino everyday at noon.
My Sunday walks lead me in to streets lined with dinner tables. Wine glasses wide enough to hold an entire bottle catch my eye. I take note of the restaurant’s name and continue my leisure.
A bespoke shoemaker’s studio sits between a gelato shop and an art gallery. A pair of gator boots stand proud in the window display. The sign says “closed” but the two orange tabby cats at the door looking out from inside spark my curiosity.
I turn a corner and I’m greeted by a little boy on a big bike wobbling toward me.
On the cobblestone roads we glide gracefully or fall spectacularly.
The artist yearns for recognition, but doesn’t care to show his craft.
The artists hates to work in the modern sense, but will spend three days shaping a curved line no bigger than the pinky finger.
The ideal expression of art is to create a mountain. The scale is dramatic. The form is familiar yet the details are nuanced. From a certain vantage point, it is nothing remarkable. From another angle, its magnificence induces tears.
This is the goal of the artist.
To be everything and nothing. To dominate the visual field, evoke intense emotion, and then fall silent.
To be like everyone else and the only one on earth.