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Experimenting with Rhythm

3 June, 2004 2:53 PM

And The Rhythm Of Life is a powerful beat, Puts a tingle in your fingers and a tingle in your feet...

I've been conducting a little experiment at 9am every morning for the past 4 months. It involves a short walk, an investment of $2.50 per day and a great coffee.

The experiment - to see what would happen if I intentionally placed myself in the same place (a local cafe) at the same time (9am) every day (I have to miss one or two occasionally, but its rare).

Its been an interesting experiment so far. I guess I'm doing it to help me reflect upon 'mission' and 'engagement with culture', but its also teaching me a lot about human nature (and myself).

The cool thing about being at the same place at the same time for 120 days in a row is that you find that you're not as unique as you might think. You see there are a number of other people whose daily rhythms intersect with mine at that time most days of the week. Some of them are paid to be there (staff) but quite a few are not.

The interesting thing for me is to watch the way in which we 'regulars', who share 30 or so minutes in this common space each day, interact with one another. There is something of an unspoken camaraderie emerging between us.

Cafes in Australia are not very interactive spaces (we go to the pub to interact with strangers - cafes are for quite chats with friends or silent times alone with a book or paper). However I'm finding that in the past few weeks the interactions I'm having are becoming more regular, longer and on a deeper level.

They have progressed from sideways glances, nods and smiles to knowing names, asking about weekends and chats about life and even faith one one occasion. This last weekend V and I even went to see one of the waiter's band play in a local club.

This may not seem (and probably isn't) that remarkable - but for me it is a new experience.

I'm not sure it comes across here in my writing, but I'm an introvert. In fact when I do personality tests they often come back indicating that I'm an off the chart introvert. As a result I find meeting complete strangers something that is a little out of my comfort zone (I'd rather extract my own teeth with a hammer and chisel). It isn't that I don't like people - I'm quite fine at having a conversation with someone that I know - its just the meeting of new people that is a little freaky.

Nothing amazing has happened yet with any of the people I see each day - maybe nothing will - but I'm amazed at the opportunities that have opened up to meet some great new people as a result of disciplining myself to establishing a new rhythm and by being open to meeting others whose lives will intersect with mine as a result.

This has been my Blogger Idol Entry for the week. blogger_idol-1.gif



great experiment Darren. I've often thought about this.

$2.50 a day is about $900 a year. Maybe we should start a coffee fund for you.

Sally » 3 June, 2004 9:45 PM

Good job Daz - us introverts need to push ourselves out into where people are. I have a weekly slot at the local pub on Friday arvos that is turning out to be a great place to make connections. I reckon it'll be interesting to see what develops in this rythm of yours.

hamo » 3 June, 2004 10:11 PM

I found rhythm as well -- in my bus rides everyday ( http://www.sense-datum.org/tim/archives/2004/03/09/13.23.45/ ). It's amazing how life can change (slow down, become cyclical, seem more vibrant) when you consciously decide to create a "rhythm."

Great post, Darren.

timsamoff » 3 June, 2004 10:45 PM

great post and site. as a matter of fact i do this as well as part of my routine. 8.00am every day, same place, same order. your right about the interactions getter deeper. however, the cost is something. my coffee is $3.00 and it adds up

shane hubner » 4 June, 2004 12:41 AM

last comment got my url wrong sorry

shane hubner » 4 June, 2004 12:43 AM

Welcome to the world of networking! You have the right spirit of adventure, even if you consider yourself an introvert.

Reaching out and communicating is a learned skill. It is a process of reaching and withdrawing. You reach with a smile or a comment, and then you withdraw to let the other person reach in turn.

Everyone has their own comfort zone in terms of responding to communication. If you pay attention to the other person, you will quickly see whether they are comfortable when you smile at them or speak to them. The important thing is to let them respond before you make another attempt to converse.

If they are shy, which is a form of fear, just disengage politely and give them a smile another day. A friendly nod delivered over a period of several days will generally open up a more interesting communication line on which information can be exchanged.

Good luck with your experiment. You might also try smiling at people you meet on the way to and from this gathering place. You never know, you might find someone else who is willing to talk.

David » 4 June, 2004 2:03 AM

Good comment David. I was actually going to write about the people I meet on the way too and from the cafe....its amazing how many people I see every day on that five minute walk. Didn't mention it for fear of too long a post.....:-)

Darren Rowse » 4 June, 2004 10:46 AM

In my current state of unemployment, I've thought about doing the same. Keep going, I want to hear more...

Jon Reid » 5 June, 2004 4:34 AM

Great experiment :) I've often thought about doing something similar... It'd be great to have a cafe where I can go and write and not be distracted by things at home. The only cafes I know of here are Starbucks though, and that gets on the expensive side... will have to look around more and see what I can find.

Yay for us introverts :)

Chera » 5 June, 2004 2:48 PM

i've often thought about doing something similar... although i would probably go for the 90 cent coffee at the university: we grad students can't afford espresso drinks every day!

i'm by nature a variety person: i love changing my environment as much as possible. this post has given me something to think about. what if by insisting on variety i'm missing out on natural opportunities to connect with new people?

michael » 6 June, 2004 3:36 AM

Hey mate. I have been doing this in Hursty, not intentionally though. More as a "get out of the house so I don't goof off with stuff" type arrangement. The funny thing though is, in Hursty, there are far less people! SO I have gotten to know and see so many locals in a very short space of time! Very funny. Gettin so I can't walk down the street without being accosted at least twice by people I have come to know!

Stephen Said » 7 June, 2004 10:34 AM

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