Went “international” yesterday. Had breakfast near my home in Conshohocken and greeted 11 people from five countries as I “table-hopped” brandishing my all-American smile, learning you don’t have to travel the world to find your Self. The world can find you right where you live. If you open your heart.
First, I saw my thrifty Venezuelan Señora, working at a heaping portion of bacon, scrambled eggs, home fries and a cup of coffee. She traveled from a different county, driving through eight small towns to get to IKEA. She comes for the 99-cent breakfast and a little philosophical discussion on the side. Talked about Indigo children, dreams, and synchronicity.
Too soon, my coffee-swilling buddy has to leave, and I hear a high-pitched voice coming from behind. A child? No, a tall blonde woman with a child. “Was that you, or your little one that just spoke?” I ask. The woman speaks to me as she helps her little girl from a cart and into a chair at an adjoining table.
I detect an accent. “Are you from Sweden?” It would make sense. IKEA’s international headquarters in North America is here in Conshohocken.
“No, Holland,” she says. “Pretty much the same thing, isn’t it?” I say, realizing how stupid it sounds. Did I offend her?
“I guess you can say that. I get that a lot from people,” she replies. What a relief! She smiled and took no offense.
Two men, both with a unique medium brown skin, sit eating at another table. “Excuse me gentlemen,” I say. “Couldn’t help but overhear you. Is the accent from India or Pakistan?” “India,” the shorter of the two say. “Any from the north, where the Buddha walked?” I ask, excited about my planned trip there. “I’m from the south,” the small one adds, while the other indicates he’s from the west and the north.
“Either of you Buddhist?” I continue, once again pushing the envelope of proper discourse from a complete stranger asking about someone’s religion. One is Hindu. The other Muslim. “About 84 percent are Hindu,” the more talkative short fellow says. “Some 14 percent are Muslim.”
“What are you, accountants?” I ask upon hearing the statistical breakdown. “No, engineers,” they say in unison.
Three Asian women are talking at the next table. “Are you from China, Japan or Vietnam?” I ask, and get no response. I kneel on the floor, next to the one around 40 years old. The youngest is about 20, while the oldest appears 60. Mother, daughter, and grandmother? I bow, and pull back, and lower my voice to prevent scaring them. “Don’t tell me,” I say. “Taiwan?”
We don’t speak English; just a little, is what the woman closest to me says in a roundabout way. They’re from Korea. “South Korea?” I want to ask, but think better, and say no more, and return to my table. Michael, where is your mind at? You don’t know any of these people, yet they befriend you when you approach and open to them.
You see, I try to find inspiration where ever I go, whatever I do. And so, I’m writing this “international journey” on a manila envelope, needing to kill time before an afternoon appointment. Just noticed a woman with two children is eating at the next table. Finishing my handwritten post, I approach and try to bring closure to my world-wide marauding. The mother and children looked as American as “mom and apple pie.” Probably from Cleveland, Ohio. I think. This should end my search for a story-a-day.
Turns out the woman comes from the Czech Republic, created in the early to mid 90s in the Eastern Bloc. Knew some of my co-workers from Philadelphia. Studies yoga.
Not a Buddhist. None were, even the Koreans were Christian. But, I’m still looking along this path. Still learning. Still seeking. Having lots of fun while I’m at it.