The chaotic medley of chatter, music and an occasional clink of ceramic ware suddenly dulls— an abrupt fade. One by one, group by group, the nameless companions casually leave the room, leaving behind only a telltale warmth on their seats and the disposable evidences of their stay. A few moments from then, the dim bulbs blink as if in electric conversation; perhaps, a customary way of lightly bidding each other goodnight.
And here, in my usual corner, I could not help but sadly smile in the sweet beauty of solitude.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the pursuit of our own existence, in the meaning and purpose of our lives. And in certain respects, we should. Every human interaction, every life and death, every word or song or laughter or cry of anguish resonates through society and history— trivial ripples which we oft romanticize into shore-breaking waves. Yet as much as we long for self-importance, as much as we assure ourselves with self-worth, time is a harsh mirror of truth. Yes, it seems so natural to make ourselves the center of our universe; considering the limitations of our own perspective, what fault is there in such thinking? For we can only see and feel what’s around us, we can only touch and sense what’s within our reach, we can only enjoy and appreciate what can be processed by our imagination.
Yet even this is facile— a mere glimpse in that unfathomable horizon, extending beyond skies and stars and our tangible dimension. And most of all, we are but slaves to mortality— a helpless prisoner of time. For consider the places which we give our selves some import— say, this fateful humble coffee shop. How many lives and stories have been shared across these tables? How many secrets and dreams were told and untold between coffee mugs? How many footprints have imprinted their marks on the well-kept wooden floors, only to be swept away into oblivion?
Meanwhile, I stay, I celebrate, I spend, I linger, I ponder, and I habituate. Yet at the end of the day, or store hours, I must vacate my spot and allow the staff to do their duties. Likewise, the staff have to close shop. And in a few days, weeks, months or years, they in turn will have to part with the store. And throughout this entire period of time, the store remains— perhaps with a few renovations here and there, maybe several replacements for a broken mug or plate, some repairs for worn furniture or some other necessary maintenance. Nonetheless, it stays— unchanged yet ever-changing. Not entirely empty, but only abandoned for the night.
Emptiness is such a wrong word, and it simply demands correction. Like an empty glass in need of refilling. Emptiness objectifies what could have been more. Emptiness quantifies what is lacking, what is missing, what needs to be restored.
But abandonment— it is a horribly beautiful word. For what does an abandoned half-cup of coffee tell you? How does an abandoned home feel— and how do we explain those houses full of inhabitants yet are devoid of life? Can someone abandon a relationship?
I guess that’s how we truly feel when something, someone important is gone: it’s not really as much as an empty hole that we need to fill, but a sentimental presence that we long to feel again— yet continuously deny in helpless realization that it will never be. For in abandonment, one cannot simply rectify with mere copies or replacements.
Abandonment signifies an indefinite finality, a vague yet resolute farewell— with no promises of return. There’s only the words, “until we meet again”— hopeful, but without commitment. Yet not in apathy nor lack of concern; instead, abandonment implies a certain resignation to fate and to faith: perhaps, freeing one’s self from the shackles of expectations of destiny; perhaps, we simply allow ourselves to trust a higher power, placing our confidence that though we may part ways, and even if we never meet again, everything will be fine.
That’s why at the end of each day, we don’t grudgingly get out of our chairs with nowhere else to go in mind. Rather, we willingly let go of the temporary comforts, the passing luxuries— because we know full well not only where we will spend the night, but where we’ll greet the morning. And as soon as we know it’s time, we rise and walk away, abandoning whatever’s left of our drinks or maybe gulp it all in, abandoning the trash or maybe try to organize or bring some with us, abandoning the courteous smiling hard-working crew and the establishment they represent.
And if by any chance we may pass this road again, we’ll know that it will be there. If not, well— we can always explore for a new spot to hangout, or just abandon the thought and head back home.