After I moved to Lisbon I had to rapidly adjust one of my habits: my wake up hour, and, subsequently, the time when I leave the house. Now I have to get up significantly earlier, and manage to be at the location I want to work from (still coffeeshops, no co-working yet) just when it opens. Which means I’m often the first client entering the place. As you can imagine, the reason is that it tends to get really crowded; sometimes if you come just half an hour after the opening time, you may not find a laptop-friendly table.
One interesting side effect of this is that I get a very interesting experience. I’ll try to describe it below.
There’s something about an empty, prepared place ready to receive guests. Especially a coffee shop. It’s almost silent, you can hear only the baristas doing their prep stuff behind the counter, the small noises amplified by the open space. The light is fragile, it’s not full day yet, but it’s not dark anymore. The tables are clean, carefully arranged, and you get to sit wherever you feel like.
You pick a place, hook your laptop and go to the counter to make your order. Being the first client means that sometimes they don’t have (yet) the thing you want, but you have no problem with that. The place is empty, you can wait a little. But most of the time you get the coffee you want, take it to your place, put it on the table and sit down. Then you look around, surrounded by all that fragile silence and rapidly changing light, thinking about the day that’s ready to unfold.
There’s so much potential in that time. There’s so much energy ready to be unleashed, directed to the goals you set up for the day, or just for the next couple of hours. You start thinking about the main tasks of the day, but you’re not opening your laptop yet. Just a few more minutes.
Sometimes, in that very special gap, I rewind the day before. I try to understand how it all went, and what I can adjust today, or what are the areas I should focus on.
And other times, I translate mentally the world “gap”, which is where I am in that part of the day, into a much more exotic one: “bardo”. They both mean the same thing: “in between”. You may be familiar with the word “bardo” from the famous Tibetan Books of The Dead, which is just a tutorial for those departing this world, by entering a “bardo”, or a gap between this world and a next one.
The more I think about that book, the more I understand the role of the “bardo”. An “in between” is a preparation stage. It’s where you get to adjust, to make amends, to adapt.
You have to do all this, because the next stage will be a fully immersed experience. Until the next bardo.
Or, in other words, until the next morning when I’ll be again the first customer in an empty coffee shop, ready to receive its guests.