At the far end of Starbucks near the corner fireplace I sit surrounded by senior citizens. The men all have snow-white hair while their female companions have colors ranging from dishwater blond to brilliant red. Some of the men have a slim strip of hair that runs from the right sideburn over the ear down to the nap of the neck then up the other side terminating at the sideburn. Rising from that narrow strip of white is a hairless fleshy dome.
The single men sit quietly. One reads a paper another does a crossword puzzle while a third stares at the flames dancing in the fireplace. Those three men represent close to two hundred years of living, roughly nine times that of the barista pulling the espresso shots. The face of the man watching the flames brightens and his eyes narrow as if to focus on a more distant object. Perhaps he recalls the first time he heard that song playing overhead. Back then his hair was dark, his belly flat and he had just discovered love. Love to him then was much more physical than emotional. The female body was a new world and he was Magellan. But over time our perspectives change, even our perspective on love.
The passions and ideals of our teens and twenties evolve into the responsible behavior of our thirties and forties. We begin to see and live like responsible adults, professionals and parents. Our youthful views narrow and we focus on the things and people we care most about and are responsible for, like our work, children and spouse.
As the years pass, textbooks and lectures give way to personal experience. We start to see trends and fads for what they are. We experience war and peace, left and right wing administrations and learn that political correctness can be counter productive and political might can trump scientific evidence. We see presidents shot and others impeached. Along the way we watch Watergate, Travel Gate and Whitewater unfold and then see those cover stories replaced by the next performance of “politicians behaving badly” and as a result public trust erodes.
Trust is a cornerstone of government and currency and critical to us as individuals. Faith in ourselves can carry us over the washboard roads of life even when the rain turns them to mud and mist blurs our vision. Over the years I have learned that I can trust most people even if they are from somewhere else and don’t speak my language. It’s only a few politicians and journalists I have doubts about.
The old man in the leather chair has finished his crossword puzzle and is heading toward the door. The other man flips to the next page of newsprint while the third man continues to watch the flames and taps his foot to the music. I look closely at the flames and notice a familiar face on the glass. Those eyes looking at a distant object belong to me.