A short story about focus and being observant — or what some people call: being obsessively compulsive.
“Oh, dear boy. Why don’t you call me by my shorter name, Willy, like everyone does?”
“Because it’s your name.”
“But, its so long. I use Willy everywhere possible.”
“Your tea is ready Mr. Wilstkirkson.” said Roy, as he didn’t find it a reasonable discussion.
“Ah, let it be, you will get bored someday. Please keep it on my study. I need to make a phone call.”
Roy kept the tea cup on the study. But not just keep it, he placed it. As in, meaningfully, at a certain spot on the table. He thought that placing it in the center didn’t look good. Placing it to the sides would risk the cup falling. So he placed it towards the right, but not near the edge, thinking that Mr. Wilstkirkson drinks his tea with his right hand so the placement was meaningful. He then went off to wash the dishes; the cup placed on the table like it was a still life photography subject or a museum artifact, but only steaming and live.
Roy had always been like this. He thought about everything, tried to find meaning in everything. He had been working with Mr. Wilstkirkson for a year now. He loved the job, as Mr. Wilstkirkson was mostly out of the house and had no family, there was not much to do and a good pay. It gave him time to think. And that’s what he did. He had reached the kitchen, and started washing the dishes.
He wondered why Mr. Wilstkirkson wasn’t drinking the tea while talking on the phone. He weighed in the benefits and the problems. He felt that it was better because it wouldn’t cool off. Also it would keep the throat wet while talking. The only issue he found with it was if he had to speak just after he took a sip. But he quickly dismissed this issue, by concluding that he could have a sip when the other person was talking.
Involuntarily, his mind had made note of the conclusion and he thought that he would tell Mr Wilstkirkson about it when possible.
As soon as he had finished washing his first dish, he heard Mr. Wilstkirkson speaking in the other room.
“It was really nice speaking to you, Mrs. Mirson. I am glad you took the time to address my concern. It has been so kind of you.”
Roy’s mind was racing again. He wondered what Mr. Wilstkirkson actually wanted to say out of all this. He felt that this was just not meaningful. It was not what Mr. Wilstkirkson really wanted to say. He was so sure about this, because Mr. Wilstkirkson was the landlord and Mrs. Mirson and her family had not payed their rent for three months now. He made a mental note to try to understand this from Mr. Wilstkirkson some time. He had to make sense of why people did what they did. Try to understand why things happened the way they happened. It had always been important to do so.
“Yes?”, said Mr. Wilstkirkson.
Roy realized that he had come out into the other room, where Mr. Wilstkirkson was talking on the phone. He thought why he was there. He tried remembering something he knew he had remembered to remember.
“Mr. Wilstkirkson,” he finally said after he was sure that he had just one important thing to ask. “Why do people have tea in a cup?”
Mr. Wilstkirkson was confused. “Oh, yes, my tea. Thanks for reminding. You kept it on my study right? Please get it here.” He was always astonished by these sudden weird questions that Roy put forward, but he had believed that he was just joking and never really paid attention. Roy had been a very loyal servant and he was happy to have him. He trusted him. Roy always seemed lost in his thoughts, but that had never been much of a problem. Except the time he burnt a precious shirt while ironing it. Or when he dropped the Egyptian tea cup thinking that he had handed it over. Or… But he was just fine.
Roy remembered the tea he had placed on the study and went off to get it, forgetting the question at hand. It was common with him. He had lots to think about, but never did he really remember any of it. it just came and went. Kept his mind busy. He never was idle. At least not mentally. Sitting at the bus stop, he noticed how people spoke on the phone, how they reacted when the bus arrived and how they passed time while they waited. He was busy. There was much to think about. He was proud of himself for this. He was a good observer and he noticed things. That was what was important to him.
This story is a metaphor about focus, about being observant, about doing only what matters to you — and then doing all of those together, living each moment deeply and fully.