With some trickery, (because of my phobias) my eldest son got me into a restaurant last night. We sat at the bar and the enforced closeness propelled us into a thoughtful conversation about keeping simple journals of our everyday lives. I am devoted to personal minutiae and like to hear the mundane moment-to-moment details of other lives.
My son, who was turned to face me had in his sight a portly man who was eating by himself at a small table, facing the back of the restaurant. The man had on a summer business suit in what I can only describe as fine gabardine in the good “Paul Stuart Khaki” color. The diner had poured his wine out of the bottle into a wide based carafe and was eating at a leisurely pace. He wasn’t reading as solitary diners often do and he wasn’t looking around. He was perfectly poised to do what he was doing without any hint of self-consciousness. For all we knew, he ate there every night and that small backward facing arrangement was at his request.
We kept talking about the man. We admired him. But why? Was it his contentment in having his meal without company or distraction? Was it his leisurely pace in enjoying the food and the care with which he had decanted his wine even though this was a non-festive Thursday evening? Was it that everything in his demeanor documented the idea that this man was comfortable in his skin and his own thoughts as well as his nice summer suit? Yes, yes, and yes.
When we think of goals or happiness, I doubt we would ever say: Happiness is going to a nice restaurant by yourself and concentrating on the perfectly cooked lamb chops and decanting the wine to let it breathe and looking at nothing in particular and thinking your thoughts without being distracted by what is going on around you.