I’ve sat in hundreds of cafés, watching lives pass by, each eager to meet someone, each desperate to get away. I’ve stared into hundreds of photographs, each a window to another patch of time and space, where beautiful souls were falling down and getting up. Still, I can’t quite grasp how many of us there are and how each of us is a world unto ourselves. Right now, in this café on Fourth Ave., an older woman in a sweater is wheeling a small, lonely suitcase toward the door. While across the street, a young Hispanic man is delivering cleaning supplies to a Vietnamese restaurant. He’s almost dancing. And there are twenty-five others around me, each wanting a pain to stop, each wanting some moment of love to linger. Now the jittery woman next to me tosses her hair and wobbles on her heels, heading back into the stream. Once outside, she passes an Asian man in argument, his arms folded. We are so easily hurt as we bounce along the pavement spilling our expectations. The young couple in the corner looks tired and tender as they lean into each other in silence. When this open, I can see into the hearts of others. Now a grandfather dotes over his granddaughter, running his fingers through her month-old hair. I hear everyone’s dreams and disappointments which, next to each other, reveal a depth I can’t live without. If it weren’t for gravity pulling on us, I’d swear this is Heaven.
A Question to Walk With: Describe a favorite café you have visited. Why is it your favorite? What have you learned from going there? What makes you want to return?
This excerpt is from my book in progress, Great Conversations: Real and Imagined.
*Photo Credit: Nick Hillier
On August 29 Mark will be offering a free reading and conversation on centered on the theme
Growing in Place: Strengthening Our Roots (Aug 29, 2020, 1-3PM ET). Registration info is at
He is also offering 3-session webinar in October called More Together Than Alone: The Power
and Spirit of Community (Oct 4, 11, 18, 2020, 1-2:30PM ET).
Registration for the More Together Than Alone webinar opens Sept 1 at live.marknepo.com. If
you’re moved to join either of these, Mark looks forward to meeting you.