Solitude in the Crowd
The smell of coffee, voices of people, and gray of the morning – all, echoing in fusion, melt into one another, creating a peculiar atmosphere of a short but relaxing moment at the beginning of the day. People passing by, carrying their own trays in a hurry not to be late for the nine o’clock meetings, and people talking, sitting at the table relaxed and satisfied as if they had nothing to do for the day. A cigarette in my right hand, a cup of coffee in my left, I am sitting all by myself at an empty table at the far end of the cafeteria, with my mind wandering over a variety of fancies and yet being aware of the things happening around me.
I am an observer. Being right in the middle of the crowd and yet somehow having stepped out of it, I am looking at the people around me, listening to their conversation, and enjoying the peculiar atmosphere of the cafeteria at this time. There is a strange barrier that distinctly separates my inner part from the external crowd, and because of this barrier, anything happening around me seems unrelated and indifferent to me.
I am isolated, in this sense, from the world surrounding me. For some reason, however, I do not feel lonesome; the feeling of loneliness seems to have nothing to do with the situation at this particular moment. Released from all worries and troubles, I often enjoy being left alone, forgotten, and uncared for. It is the positive feeling of release and security deliberately chosen for myself, which never turns out to make me feel uneasy.
I am feeling somewhat funny. With all the people and the noises around me, I have the illusion of sitting alone all by myself in the absolute quiet. My eyes are half-open not catching any sight, my ears not working after getting used to the constant noises, and my mind wandering here and there without paying any attention to anything. I have no interest in what is happening around me, and nobody seems to care who I am or what I am doing. Now I am on my own; I feel relaxed, secure, and protected.
The crowd has the same effect as the walls of a private room; it surrounds me giving me the feeling of safety and, because of the constant noises characteristic of any large crowd, shuts off any other impulsive noises often more annoying to me. In the midst of such a crowd, just as anybody feels relaxed in his own room, I can allow my mind to take a rest for a while and enjoy a little bit of laziness. Often strained and tired from the busy routines of the day, I thus enjoy my breakfast time with extra few minutes, which is my private moment I need to have at times somewhere in my daily life.
As the voices of people gradually calm down with the growing rattle of the dishes, I reluctantly finish my coffee and cigarette, coming back to reality from the short but pleasant dream of an early morning.