January’s Random Encounters


I. The Delivery Man

In a shivering cold, yet sunny January Sunday, I’m eating a carefully plated breakfast on a coffee shop’s promenade with a blanket on my legs. A man with a turban on his head parks his bike in the corner nearby. His square, food delivery backpack carrying someone’s order from the building in front of us. He checks his phone for a second, than walks towards the ornamented door of the old Lisbon building. As he enters the building, the waiter brings me a cortado, which I proceed to sip carefully not to burn my lips.

I reflect on the life of that delivery man, and so many others like him. I wonder how much he has worked to buy a flight ticket to get here, about his wife and kids back home. Where is he headed? What’s his final destination? Here? Somewhere else?

I reflect on my own bias. The way certain cultures disturb me, mainly for how they disrespect women (and so, myself), and how I tend to generalize them. Here, from my privileged European seat at the sunny promenade, I’m confronted by that man’s humanity. He’s probably just working for a better life, I think.

II. Quotes Stumbled Upon

January is typically a reflective, contemplative month: due to the year that’s passed, and the one to come. It has been a particularly serendipitous month, with a few striking sentences showing up on the Instagram feed. Two of them from Allan Ginsberg, American poet and writer.

“To gain your own voice, forget about having it heard.”

“You say what you want to say when you don’t care who’s listening.”

What I like about it is the idea of facing your subconscious and your most genuine thoughts to better know yourself.

Another sentence stuck with me, likely already stumbled upon in the past, but nevertheless important.

“Ask yourself at every moment, “Is this necessary?”

By Marcus Aurelius, and easier said than done. But really, it’s a minimalist principle.

And lastly:

“An intense experience is worth more than many superficial ones.”

I find this true because I’ve witnessed it myself. Deep experiences can have the propulsive power to transform.

III. Spare

Finally, a note on Prince Harry’s memoir, released on January 10th, and which I read with curiosity about the dark side of royalty, fame and the British press. There’s plenty on loss, grief, coping mechanisms and the dysfunctional relationship between the monarchy and the press. I found it particularly delightful to read about his close relationship with the Queen and how they bonded through a quirky sense of humor.

The featured image of this post shows Princess Diana and Prince Harry being photographed by paparazzi while skiing.