John sits at his usual table in the Kreuzeberg Coffee Shop, in downtown San Luis Obispo. It is the last night of October. His table is on the far end of a long row of tables, close to the windows which during these days of seemingly unending summer are still open.
It is usually easy to find a seat at the table next to his, since his appearance causes many to avoid getting too close for fear that he might ask for a dollar for another cup of coffee or a bite of food. But he does not ask, he has enough money to earn him his seat at this table for hours upon hours, day upon day.
A journal is laid out, carefully centered in front of him.
He writes from the bottom up. The pages on which he is now working are blank for the top 2/3, with intricate, almost microscopic writing below. It is his diary he explains, but not in the usual sense. It contains a record not of what he has done, but of what he has dreamed. His visions. That is what now occupies his time – envisioning.
Two stones, one laid on each page, keep the light breeze from turning the pages. For John, the stones have a more important role. They are made from basalt, derived from volcanos, the beating heart of the earth. They give him a spiritual connection to the earth. I ask do they work? He says sometimes too well. He has had stones vaporize before him.
I note that his writing appears to be meticulous. He replies that he was an architectural designer, a Cal Poly alum, in good stead with many of the faculty still there.
He writes. Then he waits, envisioning. What do you envision? “These days it is mostly visions from my dreams.”
It is Halloween today, and that is interfering with his visions. To the extent he sees visions at all on this day, he says, they are visions of his own death. He does not seem concerned about death, only that its contemplation is interfering with his visions of other things. I observe “Death comes early enough, no need to see it now.” He smiles softly, and agrees.
After a time, he purchases a small item of food. He carefully moves the journal an inch forward, rearranging his two vessels of water and one of coffee. All remains in perfect order. He looks down reverently, taking his muffin to his mouth with the same care he devotes to his writings.
He is nearing the end of this journal. I ask what he will do when it is complete. “Start a new one. I have over 300 of them already.”
I extend my hand as I introduce myself. He does the same. I tell him of my travels and ask if I may take his photograph. He agrees, and as I leave he says “safe travels Ken.”
Safe travels to you too John, wherever your journeys may take you while you sit at your table in downtown San Luis Obispo.