Saleh Al Shaibany –
The coffee shop was very crowded that weekend and most people were there for one reason. To have a good time or simply spend time with family and friends.
However, there was also a woman in her mid-thirties with her two young children. The boy, who was running around, was about two and the girl, in a push chair, could not be more than four months. She was having coffee with another woman who was about ten years older than her.
She was multi-tasking between attending to the needs of her children and socialising with her friend. But that’s not all. I could not help hearing their conversation because they were sitting at a table next to me.
She was listening to the problems of the another woman. She would occasionally make comments, give advice and reassure her. In other words, right there at the busy coffee shop, she was counselling her friend, the way a qualified therapist would do, while at the same time looking after her two young children.
To me, she was juggling between two important things. She was making her children happy and be there for her in her moment of need. I was still there when they finally left. She wheeled the push chair with one hand, held the hand of her son with the other while still paying attention to the woman in a “walking therapy”.
To a very discernible mind, shopping malls have many stories to tell. Beyond the razzmatazz of the fashion, noise, food courts and aimless crowd, these places can be a showcase for those who want to see more. People are just happy to lose their money, not just because they need everything they buy but they want a distraction in their minds. I happened to have coffee with a psychiatrist friend and I told him he did not need to prescribe pills every time a disturbed person goes to see him.
He agreed and gave me alternative methods they use, which is too exhaustive to write it here. However, from an untrained perspective, I told him most people deal with their problems their own way. For example, I am convinced that half of the people I see talking on their mobile phones in shopping malls are not really talking to anyone. They may have too much in their minds and the little device in their hands is a way to offload peacefully the turmoil in their thoughts.
I also see people queuing up at the ATM machines but they really do not need money. They just stand in the long queue and halfway to the machines, break it and walk away.
Some walk aimlessly but from their body language, they fantasise they are somewhere else. They do just about anything to escape the prisons of their thoughts. I bet, though I did not tell that to my psychiatrist friend. Therapy might have a new meaning if professors start modifying the text books to include how you could free your troubling thoughts in the shopping malls. It must make sense because most us are there at least once a month.
A long time ago, my teacher said in the class that “life is a jungle”, but I might add the shopping malls is the modern version of it where people go there to deal with their emotions in a harmless way. No one would be a patient in a psychiatric ward, unless they are born with a brain damage, if only they could lean to train their thoughts to be receptive with certain situations. I am also firmly convinced that our day is made up of what we think all day. Happy thoughts for a happy day.
But my psychiatrist friend did concede by saying, “who is sane, anyway?” and that was not a question.