Thomas Doty – Storyteller


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Unplugged, and Taking It All In

For most of this summer, I have been in the habit of heading out my door at dawn, laptop bag over my shoulder and phone in my pocket. I take a quick walk along the creek before arriving at my favorite coffeeshop. I settle into my usual table, pull out my computer and phone, and get to work ... sometimes writing, sometimes promoting, whatever needs to be done. Sounds of the shop are so familiar that they float around me unnoticed ... melodies of streaming music, the whir of the espresso machine, conversations from other tables. My routine is so established that the one day I decided to sit at a different table, I noticed raised eyebrows and nervous glances from regular customers and staff.

This morning was different. Something stirred in me. Maybe it was the crisp air after last night's rain. Maybe it was the first whiffs of approaching fall. Maybe it was ... well, who knows.... But this morning I walked out the door, and computer and phone stayed at home. I sauntered along the creek, taking in the early morning ... a cool breeze in the leaves, chirps from a dipper bobbing for breakfast, the honking of geese as they cleared the ridge.

After filling my coffee mug at the shop, I walked past my usual table, back out the door, and sat outside. I listened to the creek. It was running higher and louder after the rain. More bass than treble. A story wandered through my head and stayed there. There was no need to write it down, not yet, not here.

Within minutes, the first beggars stopped by. Sparrows and juncos hopped around under my table looking for crumbs. When they discovered nothing was there yet -- the owner and her workers are handy with their brooms! -- they glanced my way with a look that said, "Why don't you buy a scone, and be a little sloppy in your eating." I took the bait, and everyone was happy.

Walking home, my step seemed lighter. Maybe it was the lack of a computer bag. Maybe it was my clear head. Maybe it was ... well, who knows....

And tomorrow? There's plenty of hours in the day to plug in and work. But for that magical first hour or so, I plan on hanging out with the birds. Maybe a different table. Yes! Just to keep everyone hopping.