As you are reading this, I am writing this post from Kaffeebar in Kreuzberg. After meeting with Leni of Paperboats (oh yeah, I have a new internship on top of all the other things I am doing!), I headed over to have a coffee in the sunshine and wait for friend and fellow blogger, Franci. While here, I had an experience I felt worthy of mentioning, so read on dear reader…
Heeding my own advice, I decided to enjoy my little breather between work-related tasks and get a bit of my read on, which happens far to little these days. As I was sitting outside, sipping my iced coffee and reading an awesome article from INDIE magazine on female empowerment and three girl power groups taking the third wave of feminism by storm, an older man his 50s or 60s, most likely homeless with dirty clothes and messy hair struck up a conversation with the man sitting outside next to me.
I strained my ears to listen along, as this older man spoke about his poetry and personal formulas with the coffee shop guest. My ears overheard the man next to me telling the poet that he had spoken to him before and had received a poem from him at Tempelhofer Feld. The poet gifted with him his latest vernacular creation.
Now as an artist myself, I find wonder in the strangest of places, but think that there is a danger in romanticising sickness, tragedy, and poverty, especially as a person coming from economic privilege. Still, there was somethings so damned beautiful about the galaxy of thoughts and formulas – individual keys written for individual people to help make sense of this sick sad world – that were swarming inside of this man’s head. When he left, I struck up a conversation with the man at the cafe, curious to hear more about this wandering poet, some modern-day bard that society has forgotten, wondering if his words really could spin formulas that unlocked the root of it all.
This conversation spun into a 30 minute talk with the man I now knew as Benjamin, a Parisian artist who left the city after the artist communities of Paris were torn away and replaced with Starbucks and McDonalds about gentrification, art, and how art school is hell. (They say hell is other people, I beg to differ. Hell is an art teacher, and her name is Iona Park. JK, but seriously, Iona if you are reading this, you ruined my life.)
I asked for a link to his website, curious to check out what kind of creations this man was putting out into the world, with no specific aim or expectation to ever see him again, just thinking how when you slow down, you collect moments like this. Benjamin was also nice enough to gift me the poem which he had just received. The world works in beautiful ways.
Speed and productivity. Efficiency and getting shit done. These have tended to be my mantras. But it’s slowing down that enables us to drum up the kind of creative thought, zest for life, and inspiration for creation. It’s slowing down that allows for chance encounters and intimate moments with strangers all with the intention of connecting with another human being on an intellectual and emotional level without any expectation or hidden agenda. Simply for the sole purpose of the beauty of human interaction.
In return, you share pieces of yourself with these strangers. And you take pieces of those strangers with you. (And sometimes a hand-written poem as well.) These pieces inform your thoughts and shape your understanding of the world. They broaden your horizons beyond your everyday surroundings – that is, if you let them.
I’ve told those close to me that I identify as an optimistic nihilist with depressive tendencies, and while this remains as true as it did the day I realised it, even if there’s no grand reasoning for why we humans bipedally navigate this spinning rock, these small moments of intimacy with another beating heart make me happy for being human. And in these moments, even though I know that I will never solve life’s big mysteries, that intimacy is enough.
Photography: Sara Tortora