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Audacity

2016 07 30 Reading Room

On the top floor of the library downtown, there is a wonderfully sun-lit corner set aside for a casual reading room. It offers a stunning view of the water and the entire marina and barrier islands. Facing one large picture window is a love seat where anyone who likes can relax as long as they want, enjoying the view and the quiet atmosphere.

Recently, I visited and took a seat away from the windows but where I was able to still enjoy a good view. I settled in with my Kindle and was knee-deep into a gripping story when a woman across from me (who had only sat down a few minutes prior) started clucking her tongue and sighing exasperatedly over the sound of a happy toddler just chatting to himself. He and his father were quietly enjoying the prime seating at the picture window and the toddler was, in my opinion, being exceptionally well-behaved. I glanced up and saw her glaring at the pair, scowling, then looking over to me as if she expected me to say something. After a few more minutes of her huffing, what she did next just blew my mind.

This woman – and because this story does have to do with racism and classism, I may mention she was Caucasian and very much a New Yorker and somewhat well-off – picked herself up and marched right over to the man – a local black southerner – and leaned right down in his face, asking him how much longer he planned on sitting there. I couldn’t hear his response but she said to him, “I’m not telling you what to do, but as you can see, this is a beautiful spot to sit and it is here for all the patrons of the library to enjoy, so you and your boy need to go downstairs or find somewhere else to sit because other people will want to sit here and you’ve been here long enough.”

Whoa.

Mind you, there were several seats available in the area, all with a view, and no one was waiting for a seat. The woman had only been there for five minutes when she decided the black family wasn’t good enough to use the seat. After hearing what she said to him, all I could do was utter a shocked sound and watch in horror as the man actually politely got up, packed his son back into his stroller, and left. I felt horrible for them, but I didn’t know what to say!

The woman then went to sit back down in her seat – not the window seat! – and about 30 seconds later got back up and came over to me. I was shocked when she placed her magazine and her hand on my lap and leaned in only inches from my face and asked me, “Were you laughing at me or with me?” I just shook my head and said, “You have balls.”

“What does that mean,” she asked. I calmly looked up at her, leaning back so as to feel a little less claustrophobic, and told her, “I was laughing at the audacity you have to think you have some God-given right to tell perfect strangers what to do. Those people had every right to be in that seat, they weren’t disturbing anyone, and you had NO right to walk up to him and tell them to leave! You don’t own this place and you have no authority over anyone here!”

She. Was. Shocked.

I was just disgusted. She scoffed at me and stormed off. Good. I’d wanted to slap her however my words appeared to have stung just as well. As soon as she left, the man and his son came back and he and I shared a smile and a look of understanding and sympathy as he took the window seat back and went about his business spending time with his son in these beautiful surroundings. People like that woman are a poison in our sea of tranquility and I hope for even a brief moment she realized that her intolerance will not be tolerated.

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Daily Prompt: Simply The Best

This post is in response to: Daily Prompt: Simply the Best | http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/daily-prompt-best/

Where do you do your best thinking?

My mind is one of those that always seems to be going non-stop, even when I’m trying to get to sleep (sometimes especially then).  To make it all make sense takes special focus.  It takes actual pen and paper to chart out those processes, expand them, tie them together, and condense them in an organized, easy to tend manner.  While thoughts on everything from finances to short story ideas come in a mudslide, my key to gaining this coveted organization is sensory deprivation – or as close as I can get to achieving that.

This state of thought can rarely be achieved at home. With seven or more people in the house at any given time, there is rarely any quiet, much less a time of few to no distractions.  Our back yard provides a very temporary haven to sort things out as we have a large fire pit set far enough back that household cacophony does not reach.  It does seem though that every time I retreat to the fire pit for some brain-time, soon someone realizes I am back there and comes to hang out, the rest following shortly after they’ve realized the first is missing.

Alternately, beautiful shorelines are all around me.  Be it a small lake, a creek, river, or beachside, there is always somewhere I can go if I have the gas to get there.  The area around the library is one of my favourite places to sit and sort. If one view becomes monotonous, another is only a couple minutes’ walk away.  People don’t bother you much out there, aside from the expected nod, smile and “good morning!” as they pass you walking.  Being surrounded by natural scenes allows my mind to pause, take in the simplest of sounds, sights and smells, and stop long enough to think on paper, one topic at a time.  Nature gives me the space I need for my body and soul to just breathe and just that in itself helps everything fall into order.  Oddly, the darker, rainier, stormier it is, the more creative the thoughts become.  Until of course every hair on my body starts to tingle, then my only thought is “Lightning – Shelter!” *winks*

The only time it becomes impossible to think straight is when I am under extreme stress, and I have had my share of that.  When depression starts to creep in over the things causing stress, there is no place or situation that seems to help me think.  In fact, thinking when I am feeling depressed is something I try to avoid because it tends to begin a downward spiral which only ends badly unless by some miracle something happens to pull me out of it.  Likewise, I try like hell to avoid making decisions or plans under pressure.  Those are the ones we tend to regret the most.

So nature, every bit my thinking box, especially when the calming energy of water surrounds me.  Your turn – Where do YOU do your best thinking?