I love working in coffee shops. There is something about the chatter, the aroma, the setting, the coffee, and the general ambience. Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, has been successful in his attempt to create a third place for people to go meet, connect and work, and this has trickled down to coffee shops of all types.
Yesterday, I was working in one of those hipster, third wave, coffee shops, and no... I was wasn't working on growing out my beard. Depending on the place, and the vibe of the room, I often like to work without headphones. There is something soothing about the gentle roar of non-descript voices chattering away. I find the white noise acts a platform for my creativity, where music for me, at times, can become a distraction in and of itself.
While quietly plodding away, gleefully typing away, one voice began to stand out above the buzz of the room. I was sitting at the window, at a countertop looking outside, with my back to the room, but I could this voice rising from a table just over my right shoulder. I noticed that I as I was writing, I started to get bogged down, and my energy and inspiration seemed to vanish right into thin air.
The chatter over my shoulder began to soak the atmosphere of the room, it was even more palpable than the aroma of freshly ground coffee.
In 5 short minutes, I was now intimately aware of every bad interaction in this persons life. I was aware of what felt like every offense, every underhanded remark, every personal slight, I became keenly aware, that apparently, every person on the entire earth was out to get her, and if they weren't out to get her directly, then they had in some way, shape, or form, deeply offended her.
I grabbed my bag, slid my laptop into it's appropriate pouch and got out of there as quickly as possible. I had reached my threshold, and could not take it for even one more moment. I wasn't eavesdropping, I wasn't trying to pay attention, but the frequency and the fervency in this individuals voice had overcome the chatter of a packed cafe and now found its way into my soul. I didn't leave because I was angry or offended. I left because I could no longer create. My ideas dried up, my words lacked life, and I was literally just fulfilling a word count, suffering through the incessant onslaught of negativity.
I jumped into my car and head to another location, taking a quick walk to clear my thoughts. Within 5 minutes of leaving that environment, the ideas started flowing again, fast and freely, just as they had before that voice rose above the crowd.
There are times when you can push through, and there are times when you just need to get up and leave..... and I am not just talking about a coffee shop.
Brett Esslinger is a Husband, Dad, Son, Brother, Pastor, Speaker, Leader, Writer whose life goal is to help people unlock their potential and fulfill their life's purpose.
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