(Last Sunday: The story transitions to the present where Chartan regrets neglecting his relationship with Brazil.)
Chartan and Brazil sat across from each other at a wood table in the center of their favorite coffee shop featuring, as always, “The Chartan,” a 72-bean French roast intended to jolt the sleepy. Each man gripped the steaming mugs on what was a frosty morning.
“Face off at center ice,” said Brazil who had watched the U.S. hockey team lose to Canada the night before on TV.
Chartan looked blankly at his friend.
“Oh, yeah, you don’t have a TV,” added Brazil. “Do you care about the Olympics?”
“I know they’re happening—I usually go online once a day. But I’m afraid I was visiting the Epictetus website last night. “
Brazil smiled. “Did he have anything new to say?”
“Always. Wisdom doesn’t age—now I said that but Epictetus also said, “Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems.”
“Was he a combat vet? Did he marry a stranger? ”asked Brazil who immediately raised the mug to his mouth.
“He was exiled but he was made strong by his thoughts. For example, he said ‘Make the best use of what is in your power and take the rest as it happens.’”
“Sounds like it could have been said last week for the first time, ”offered Brazil who took another gulp.
“Friend, slow down,” said Chartan. “ Think about what the coffee tastes like, then put your palms face up on the table and relax those fingers—don’t speak. Let’s wait until your hands stop trembling. ”
Brazil’s hands finally went limp. “Too much caffeine,” said the vet.
Chartan smiled. “You and I both have a long journey ahead of us. We won’t get far by worrying. I regret that we don’t talk to each other like we did on the mountain. ”
“That seems like such a long time ago,” said Brazil.”
“It’s become a memory, not a living moment. We need to get it back.”
“Agreed. I’m tired of feeling sorry for myself.”
Chartan took his first sip. “There is no reason why we shouldn’t talk every day. We don’t need an agenda, just a touch to keeps us moving forward.”
“I’m with you buddy,” said Brazil who pushed the mug to the side.
Chartan declined Brazil’s offer of a ride, instead, he relished the mile walk to his apartment.
It so easy to lose oneself in problems. I can help myself by helping Brazil. Everything I do should be connected. Chartan held this thought until he could see the apartment building in the distance. He smiled at the vision of Gina seated at the kitchen table, preparing for her last day of work before taking maternity leave.
(Continued next Sunday)