Busy week travelling for work – stressing about house purchase, a foot-long list of stuff I haven’t done, and getting the date of my godson’s birthday wrong. I even had a panic attack at the end of a meeting because there was one comment that struck my brain the wrong way.
But I continue to be reminded that my pessimistic nature rarely has basis in fact. And I am trying to notice that more often.
I am visiting my company’s office in Israel – a country I have come to love over recent years. Israelis have a fantastic directness and familiarity, which I adore due to my lack of both. This morning I prepared myself to be subjected to some awful team bonding activity, and was vocal about my low expectations and disdain for such events. In reality, I was treated to an awesome morning walking around Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market, hearing the stories of the stall owners and sampling some weird and wonderful food.
By weird, I mean some kind of barely legal ketamine-type juice and Israeli halva (a dense sesame sweet). By wonderful, I mean the best hummus, and falafel, and breads.
The highlight of the tour was a coffee shop with a particularly charismatic owner, who told us that he had decided to pursue his fantasy after retiring from teaching. Now he makes coffee and sings opera and Ratpack standards, for no-one but himself. He explained that he does not have cakes or encourage people to stay, he wants them to take their coffee and go, because he wants his fantasy. He wants the life he enjoys and not to feel like he is working. There was another guy, living within the maze of market streets, who one night a week pulls his couch outside and cooks fish from the stall opposite his house, selling it for whatever people want to pay. The market is full of shops that open and close when they choose, when the pot of food or the joints run out.
It was full of people who live their lives and run their businesses how they choose, without compromising their own personalities – a million miles away from our city with a Starbucks on every corner. And there is real joy to be found in that.
I need to work out what is my coffee shop, what I want to sing.
[I apologise for the lack of photos. It was early when we started and didn’t think about it.]