November 23, 2012


Black hands and red arms quivering, it ended, and I looked around at something that felt like a mess, but was really just empty space. I looked a block down, at what really was quite a mess, and saw all of that old shit, plenty more new things, none of it together in any meaningful way yet. I saw ends and beginnings, other people's sentiment, and felt mostly that this was just another day.

It's a funny thing, cutting hoses, carrying grinders, brewers, and espresso machines. It feels wrong, scandalous even, like you're breaking shit, maybe even stealing it. And so there is a tingling sort of sensation that goes along with doing something you aren't supposed to, although perhaps some of that is just the fact that a lot of those things are really quite heavy.

It's tiring work - not the sort of thing 145 lb runner/baristas are well equipped to handle - but I took it, because it was there, and better than nothing. The owner of my shop, you see, long ago started a different place, which is now closed. He's opening a new place nearby, and I, along with a much more morose (they were more attached than I, understandably) staff, substituted ourselves for actual movers.

Hipster Moving Company, I suggested, noting the apparent uniform of moccasins with skinny black jeans. Apparently, we all thought manual labor would be best undertaken wearing our flimsiest footwear and tightest pants. In the future, we should probably stay away from such work.

But although there is this great change, the shop I run will be relatively unaffected. Or at least it ought to be. The future in food service, perhaps more so than any other industry, fluctuates constantly. It takes nothing more than a few bad months to tank even successful, venerable operations. And even if money is no problem, it takes only the whims of one person to close an establishment.

So no, I don't have delusions about this. I'm good at my job, and run a business that makes money every month. But that can change. And even if it doesn't, profit is no lifetime guarantee. Businesses come and go, as do people, as does everything else. To believe otherwise is to engage in a high level of cognitive dissonance.

I'm not saying that attachment to people or things is bad, of course. Such feelings are really only worth having because of their fleeting nature. If I had eternity with my machine and my customers, I couldn't possibly enjoy them as much as I do now, knowing that someday, I'll be without all of that. Someday, I'll work somewhere else, maybe even do something else (though I can hardly imagine it), and see different people. And it will be satisfying, I hope, just as my present circumstances are.

All of this is to say, change is not a bad thing. People have been saying that things are getting worse forever, a pessimistic view that is, ironically, rather comforting. If pessimism has such ancient roots, and there is still so much to enjoy, how bad could things really be getting?

So yes, change. It's happening, always, eternally present, and thankfully so.
Are we to look at cherry blossoms only in full bloom, the moon only when it is cloudless? To long for the moon while looking on the rain, to lower the blinds and be unaware of the passing of the spring—these are even more deeply moving. Branches about to blossom or gardens strewn with faded flowers are worthier of our admiration.

Yoshida Kenko

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