Today, I am going to write about how pleased I am to be able to be enjoyin’ my coffee once again. The past month I have experienced many disruptions to my mind, body and soul. It is not recommended to dwell on the past, so I won’t.
Coffee is a thing
What I will do is express gratitude for simply being able to taste, savor and enjoy a cup of coffee once again. Yes, I know coffee is a thing. I see many blogs out there with coffee tie-ins. I see blogs started with the first, second or even third post being reviews of coffee houses, coffee drinks or coffee makers. It is a good choice to do this because coffee can and often does attract clicks on said blogs. A blog on coffee stands a better chance of getting noticed than one about shirt buttons, for example.
I am writing about coffee this morning for my own reason. I am writing about coffee because I don’t have a choice. You see, I’ve been at this coffee thing since the late 80’s. As I say above, I was deluded and separated throughout June. I sorted through and crawled out of the wreckage day by day. I have slowly returned to myself. There have many other small milestones and I have passed as I cleared the debris from my mind. However, being able to sit on my porch with my ritual cup of straight black drip coffee brings a historically personal confirmation to my day.
Enjoyin’ my coffee this morning
The two cups I have had this morning did not make me anxious. In fact, the opposite took place. The ritual morning coffee reassured me. It reminded me that I have overcome many other trials and tribulations over the past decades. The repeated sips collaborated with my clear, energized mind. The mind I recharged with real night of unpolluted sleep.
The list of things I left behind over the past weeks is quite lengthy. Some of these I will sadly never be able to get back. Others I simply will never be able to recall. I am looking forward to appreciating many people, places and things once again. I chose coffee from that list because this is partly a coffee blog and because as I said, I have no other choice. Simply put, if I’m enjoyin’ my coffee once again, that means I’m enjoyin’ my life again.
“Those who manage to be where their coffee is will grow, stretch and emerge stronger, smarter and more prepared as we find peace and gratitude in the pause after the sip”
This expert is from the above book and has been modified by me.
This morning, I am where my coffee is
I am thinking, between sips, about “what be where your feet are” means to me. It took a minute or two and more than two sips of coffee. Then it struck me. It means to me that we should live each and every moment with thoughtful intention, taking that moment for what it is while accepting that the time is going to pass anyway. I find it easy to do this on my front porch, on my laptop, so early in the morning that it is still dark and the crickets and gentle drops of rain are the only sounds. In the interest of transparency, I am in fact on my second up of coffee.” God help me, I do love it so’ George C. Scott as Patton.
But he was talking about war, I am referring to coffee. The energized calm it brings to my mind is, to me, priceless. It engenders a confidence in my being and by extension my writing. The rituals I cultivate and maintain based on when and where I have my coffee are sacred pillars of my daily routine. My hierarchy of values would crumble without coffee. Bring all of life’s distractions and troubles to me here and now. I got this.
Well, since life doesn’t work that way, we have to prepare to take part in it without getting overwhelmed, frustrated, depressed, anxious. I took and modified the above expert from the book, Be Where Your Feet Are by Scott M O’Neil. I haven’t read it, but if I plug it on my blog then I feel I bit better about altering the except. It’s National Coffee Day, 2021 today so I feel like it’s appropriate. Plus, we will all take something unique from the book, when reading it. So, why wait? I am already feeling confident, as I said. Therefore I am going to cheat and give you my takeaway with the coffee angle.
Leaving my coffee behind?
Be where your coffee is and you will not longer waste time looking for things you have lost. Sound too good to be true? Well, it’s not. I’ve have had lots of practice. What this modified wisdom means is that if we remain intentional with every thought, every moment, every cup of coffee we will never lose or misplace things of value to us. Impossible you say? Hell yes it is. Because, we cant’s stay on our pre-dawn porches sipping coffee an listening to it drizzle for the rest of our lives. But when we lose something, like a ball cap or pair of glasses, we can mentally remain or return there. We can return to the mentally calm yet energized place and wait for the glasses or ball cap to come back to us. Believe me, they will. I know because for me they just did. But I knew they would- and that is the secret. Intrinsic and internally generated thoughts are what are best observed and obeyed. Nothing is external. Or, more accurately, I’ll modify that also to nothing of truly gives us return on its value is external.
The losing of
On the very same day about three weeks ago, I realized I had “lost” my fourth pair of glasses and my Ohio State Buckeyes baseball hat. These items are useful to me. I have four spots in and around my house where I need and keep my glasses. The ball hat I use to keep the sun out of my eyes when I drive. I discovered that both were gone as I went about my Saturday machinations. For most of my adult life, I thought anger, frustration and withering self-criticism were the answers here. Losing something meant getting pissed and wasting a lot of time looking of it. Not any longer. I have spent the last several years practicing the understanding that misplacing something is an act of a distracted, unintentional mind.
Therefore, the resulting action is to not to look for the glasses or cap. But to to wait for them to come back to you when you need them to. That is, after you have relearned the lesson that in that moment when you misplaced them your mind was distracted by the external. It was was not in nor on that moment. Your mind was not on sitting calmly on your porch taking in the calm pre-dawn drizzle. Your mind, meaning you, was NOT where your coffee was.
The finding of
Last Saturday I was in Bloomington, IN taking a few things to my son who attends IU. I was taking a few thing out of the hatchback of my car. There was my Buckeye hat. The following day, I was at my writing table in the living room. I got up to heed the call of nature and when I returned to said table there seemed to be one more pair of glasses there than before. I stood at the table for a moment as I counted the pairs of glasses on the table among the books and old journals. Two. I looked on my spot in the house where I pay my bills and the usual pair was there. Lastly, I stepped quickly to this spot on the porch and saw pair number four. How the hell?
Always try to be where your coffee is
Both the hat and the glasses had found me. I had not wasted time looking for them. I had understood that I had been distracted and living a moment without intention when I misplaced them. That is the real value here, not the found external objects. Useful? Yes? Replaceable? Yes. The time I would have spent looking for them replaceable? Hell no! My feet were not where my coffee was. This is not the first example of me waiting for something I had lost to return to me, just the latest. We can not always be sitting calmly in the predawn drizzle with a nice Saturday morning cup of coffee in our hands. But with a lot of practice, intention and internal focus we can keep that mind moment with us, not to mention our glasses and favorite ball cap. Next time you misplace something, take a breath, find your mental coffee cup and do NOT look for it. It will be there ready and waiting-when you are.
Several months ago I went to book sale. It was the last day of the 3 day event. In keeping with book sale tradition the last day is usually called bag day or box of books day. Bring a box or bag, cram it with books and pay 5 bucks for the lot. That’s me. I have hard time resisting a deal. I think I passed this on to my young adult children, most obviously to my daughter. Five summers ago, can it be that long ago?- we were in Chicago. I was doing research -can I really call it that?- on my historical fiction novel, Tripio, set in Chicago and she was taking in the big city. We found ourselves at a book sale at Chicago Public Library on bag day. I had a great time, as one does, searching through the tables and titles. My daughter did too, getting about two dozen titles of all shapes and sizes. I joked that we need a U-Haul instead of a taxi to get back to the hotel.
A book bags me
At the Chicago book event, I was looking for certain titles and favorite authors. This most recent bag day, I was not. Only, a book found me anyway. You see, at this event I was crawling out of the wreckage of a bad time in my life -who hasn’t had such a streak of hours, days, weeks, months? I went to this book fair to re-acquaint myself with people and the ability to go where I wanted, when I wanted.
However, I did not have a mental list of authors or books. I was in search of a book or books, but was not relying on my eyes. So my book found me -sounds strange doesn’t it? (Is this device annoying you yet?). The book in question was Essential Spirituality. It was a dollar and the book simply and obviously put itself in my hands. It turns out that it was only book I bought on this bag day. But it has provided me with enough thought, value and wisdom utility to be worth a bag of books on its own.
Over the last few months I have read from Essential Spirituality every morning. Below are some of my favorite wisdoms, from many the sources found within Essential Spirituality. I have taken the liberty to walk among them, going where I want, when I want. Have fun!
The ten wisdoms for free
The mind and body are so closely linked that to change on is to change the other.
To understand is to forgive. Before you attempt this on other folk, try it on yourself. I am getting there.
Fear thrives in darkness and ignorance.
A person attempting to grow beyond the usual conventional level cannot expect much support from society
Pleasure seeking inevitably produces suffering, both for yourself and others. I can vouch for this one
We do not usually fear reality, what is actually happening, but rather our own thoughts and fantasies about what may happen. This is why Insurance companies can afford to bombard us with ads
The superior person is the master of of things, the small person is their slave.
Cognitive Incapacitation. My acquaintances who tune to Fox news tell me it best watched when the mind has entered this state
The only true wisdom lives far from mankind. Time for me to take a walk in the woods
There are as many ways to God as there are created souls. Too beautiful for comment
It was nearly dinner time when the realization struck me. There would be no coffee available tomorrow morning.
But, indeed it was true. You see, I was visiting my family in Ohio and the house I was spending the night in was being renovated. Not in a half ass sense either. The specific room in question being the kitchen. A kitchen was not there right now. All that remained of the old kitchen were four walls, a floor and electrical outlets. Outlets that could not be used to fire up a coffee maker the next day as the power was shut off. Luckily and conveniently, pizza was on the way for dinner.
Of course there was a Starbucks near the house. Perhaps I had forgotten it was there. Or I had been so accustomed to seeing them everywhere these days that one no longer made an impression. A Starbucks was just part of the backdrop of an everyday life in this country. No matter. I had remembered it was nearby and would still be there in the morning. So I ate my pizza when it arrived, relaxed to some football on TV and later drifted off to sleep in the arms of a siren.
A short trip that began a long trip
Since I posses a morning chronotype, I was up by 5 the next day. As soon as I woke, I checked my phone to confirm the location and hours of that nearby Starbucks. I wrote in my journal for about 20 minutes before heading for my ritual, emotionally comforting morning coffee. I arrived a few minutes after six, and was not the first customer. The three baristas had the coffee brewed, the music on and were ready to rock. Since I am old coffee guy from way back, I requested a Vente Italian and blueberry scone. You cannot beat the classics. I left a tip- Once a barista, always a barista- and headed for the door.
But I stopped still right there. It had hit me. My cup and scone secured, I had let my self relax now. I was able to appreciate and recognize my surrounding again, now that I had a full coffee cup in hand. I breathed in that unique aroma of a just opened Starbucks location. In that instant I was standing in the vestibule of my Starbucks on Diversey in Chicago on a September morning in 1993.
They say that sense is the most powerful of all senses when it comes to triggering memory. A previous experience with scent memory took me back to the time when I was helping my second oldest son begin his freshman year at Purdue. He had been on campus several times over the years and even stayed in the dorms as part of a science camps. But this was different. Today he would begin living on campus. This meant being away from everything that was routine and comfortable.
As we finished up, my son was washing his hands in the dorm bathroom down the hall. I had washed mine just before him. As he took his turn, he said to himself more than to me, “The soap smells the same.” In those few words, I heard the realization in his voice that he was at Purdue now, on his own and living in this dorm. The scent memory from previous times at Purdue had activated in him the understanding that I would be driving back home without him.
Advice is cheap
Yes, I was a barista at one time. It was for four years at Starbucks in Chicago from 1990-1994. That includes a heck of a lot of mornings when I was there to open the store. I had not been back to a Starbucks at opening time until this very morning. It had about 25 years. Starbucks and I have each changed a great deal since we parted ways. Starbucks, the company, has become a world wide success in most every measurable way. If I had stayed employed there, the numbers tell me, I could be pretty well off financially now.
The scent induced memory paralysis kept me standing in the vestibule. I saw my younger self in place of one the three baristas behind the counter. I wanted to shout across the store and tell my younger self to stay in that green apron and one day you will be rich. Induced by scent memory, I had the chance to reclaim the one and only chance in my life I was ever going to have of having a lot of money to my name! I believed I had exorcised this euphorically recalled landscape of my life when I wrote Tripio. Not quite though. Or, I would not have been standing in the vestibule of one of the 25,000 Starbucks on the planet, thinking of yelling advice to my younger self.
Be where your coffee is
Like my son’s experience on college move in day, the scent memory made my years as a young man behind at Starbucks become real. I was back behind that counter tied into the green apron and perhaps checking to see if we had enough flat to-go lids. Just then the door opened behind me and the scent memory trance was broken. Damn, I was enjoyed the trip back in time. Couldn’t this customer have picked one of the other 24,999 Starbucks? Oh well, I stepped out of his way and back into the present moment.
I had enjoyed my scent memory journey back in time. Luckily, there was a better place for all that recall and it is entitled Tripio. The urge to communicate some of my wisdom to my younger self had passed. Just as well, knowing him, he would not have listened anyway. Which is also just as well. Wisdom can’t be absorbed by the ears. It has to earned by experience, processed by the mind and paid for my one’s emotions. So, my younger self will just have to buy book and see how it ends.
Sure, the search engines will pester me about the title to this post. I know that they will because it is not ladled to their always open mouths to be poured in drip by drip. They want me to write for your expectations. They want me to create this blog based on what you have told them what you will read. Ah, hell no. Never fear though. Because if you have managed to find this post, it will be worth reading in spite of the self censoring web-crawlers. So, go ahead. You’ve earned it.
We humans have a heard time changing. We have spent most of our collective civilizations attempting to make things easier on ourselves. All in all, we have achieved truly amazing things over the centuries. And, I’m all for it. If not for the sweat equity of those before me I would not be able to brew the coffee I must have in the morning, fire up the laptop and in about half an hour climb into my car and drive to work.
Makes me wonder
But I wonder from time to time if things are too easy, for me at least. I think this thought and type the words fully realizing how “problematic” such a proposition can be. I am lucky enough to have a life which allows the time to think such things. Two things to say now: I’ve already paid my respects to those before me in the paragraph above. Second, it seems to me that in this day and age, it would be problematic to someone somewhere if I announced on my blog that it was time for me to clip my toenails. So, on we go.
I think what I am getting at is that in the search for ease and convenience we may be losing the ability to appreciate. We can buy anything from our phone on our buttocks and have it sent to us, still on our buttocks some time later. It literally makes me wonder if something is being lost…
(A moment or two or thoughtful contemplation is now taking place)
Time’s up! I don’t personally think “easier is better” creates a frame of mind that can sustain appreciation for said gain. It just ain’t how humans work.
Don’t let me ruin your day. Instead, I have a simple solution to apply. It will help one to appreciate the endeavor, purchase or activity to be undertaken. Here goes. The endeavor purchase or activity will be appreciated more deeply, if it costs you your attention, concentration, time and effort. One must ACTE in order to appreciate. The “e” is pronounced at the whim of the reader. I’m not forcing the issue.
ACTE before you act
I will illustrate, clarify and enhance ACTE by using my own life as an example. My youngest son is now off to a Big Ten university to undertake his college education. He is following in the footsteps of his three older siblings, who all worked hard to graduate from college. My contribution in helping them along the way required a hell of a lot of each letter.
A – Attention- reading to them, reading to them, reading to them.
C – Concentration- mostly in the form of listening, observing and engaging.
T – Time- Spending the time with them that I had, but more importantly spending time with them that I didn’t have.
E – Effort- Spending energy in ever changing forms with, on and for them.
In my example the reward and appreciation was a long time in coming. However, the brilliant utility inherent in ACTE can take any form. Use it at the grocery store, car wash or peep show. It will enhance or even create your appreciation of what you’ve bought experienced or created because anything too easy simply won’t, because it can’t. It’s the human condition, people.
Nothing worthwhile ever, ever, ever comes easy. If it does, or seems to, then you maintain the option not to ACTE before you act, while pronouncing the “e” or not.
This is nothing more than a hobby, a pastime, a vitally absorbing creative interest. That is what it was when I started and what I need it be, what it must be. That is all. I am free to do anything with this post, with anything I write in a longer format because the end, the goal is the process. The vitally absorbing creative interest appears out here but the true destination is the mind. Going outward to find the inward, in other wards. Words, I mean.
My mind is clear, energized and productive at 7:01 on this Sunday morning. I moved my laptop out onto my porch in order to channel the wisdom of the breeze and the trees. I am managing my mental energy now, not the clock, not what I have to do later. The morning breeze and swaying trees don’t care what’s next. That is what I am trying to capture here. Can you feel it?
The Great “We”
Is there a value for anyone else in this post but me? In a way, I hope not. Because, I am writing this for me. If writing a post keeps my mind, body and soul calm, clear and energized then I have done my share. I have done my part for the great “we”, contributed to the world of interbeing. In writing this I am working to contribute to that connecting web we all share. It is the only sustainable way to make this world a better place anyway. Will it sell books and generate clicks and comments. I hope so, if they are coming from the breeze and the trees.
“O seeker, know that the path to Truth is within you” -Sufi Sheikh Badrutdin
The chase is on
I don’t get is sometimes. All this chasing the external. Chasing clicks, likes, sales, external validation. I just don’t. There isn’t anything of true lasting value out there. It distracts me more than anything else. It demotivates me, it annoys me, it takes the desire and pure fun out of it all. I simply don’t want any part of it. The real reward is found inward and is pursued and practiced in anonymity.
So why bother posting at all? I like to post. I enjoy watching my thoughts assume the shape of words, paragraphs and posts. It is fun and a good practice for a early rising person such as myself. What better way to spend the hours before the worlds gets started than to contemplate, read or write in the time when the new day is being created? Now is the time for this day will never come again. It is a time of renewal. A time to take the unlimited possibility the new day offers and add ones’ own energy.
Trying to catch something that never moves
It is not that I am being selfish or self-righteous about any of this. I just don’t see the point of chasing the external, of taking my place in line in the “consensus trance” of fleeting external validation. Simply and incorrectly stated: that don’t motivate me. I am finding that when I don’t blog, a spark is missing from my being. So I hit these keys.
I feel better now after hacking these words out than I did fifteen minutes ago. That is my motivation here. I suppose that I am being selfish here, but what do I care? It works for me.
If my internal journey, whose true worth is not measured in clicks or likes, is any real value then only I will know. Hey, I didn’t make the rules.
Tomorrow night I am planning on seeing A Midsummers Night’s Dream. The production is to be out doors in a park on a mid-summers’ night and starts at 8 p.m. That may still be considered evening, not night. I am not too worked up about it as the event is free. I am excited to Shakespeare performed live on a stage whether it is evening or night. It will be change for me since I usually start my day reading a Shakespeare sonnet.
For the past few months, I have been reading a Shakespeare sonnet nearly every morning. It makes for nice five minute mind focusing exercise to start the day. It’s not the Shakespeare so much as the duration of the exercise that works for me. I access No Sweat Shakespeare to read the sonnet in the original. I kick my mind into gear trying to figure it out. This is the part of the routine that does my mind the most good. Next, I read the modern interpretation. At times, I get it, and other times not so much. As a reward, I watch and listen to Patrick Stewart read said sonnet, which then sends me off to the next part of my morning in good frame of mind.
And so I am more than half way finished with the 154 of these enjoyable enigmas. So I thought it would be a good time to list my favorite verse or line from them so far. I may add my own clarification for the heck of it. Here you go.
“The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell”
“Thy eyes are constant stars”
“And many maiden gardens, yet unset, with virtuous wish would bear you living flowers.”- I garden so I liked this one. I have no idea what it means.
“Like old men of less truth than tongue”-Old men, young men, young women, old women, most all of us, anyone on Twitter.
“Whatever star that guides my moving”
“I all alone beweep my outcast state.”- you and everyone else who’s ever taken a breath.
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought-” see above
“I in thy abundance am sufficed” Many parents will relate to this line
“When I most wink, then do my eyes best see”- And he lived before television, phones, the internet. This is as true then as now. Your subconscious mind doesn’t want anything from you but your attention.
Well, hell. I only make it to the mid-40’s. I had a blast. Hope you did too!
I have been reading a lot recently. However, I was not reading for fun or relaxation. I’ve been reading page after page devoted to helping me understand my mind and the path I allowed it to take. That path led to mental, spiritual and physical delusion. It was an incredibly bad choice. However, I did learn that in order to
It was a cooler day on my porch yesterday when I picked up a book I had started a couple months ago and read just for the fun of it. I began reading for reading’s sake again. It felt great.
Reading for fun again reminded me how much fun reading is
The book really isn’t the point here. Yes, it was a good choice as it was a fun escape and I was half way through it already. That was part of the value in picking it up again as I was remembering characters and plot twists as I went along. Clearly, this isn’t unusual in and off itself as one reads a novel. yesterday on my porch whenever I said to myself “Oh, yeah, he’s the crazy guy with the mechanical hand stalking the main character“. As a result, could feel myself connecting to the “Golden Buddha” inside myself. The one we all have in common, yet is too easily covered up.
I ended up finishing “Squeeze Me” while not having set out to finish yesterday on my porch. Yet, I was having such a grand time reading for fun again that I just kept going. The grace that I was able to give myself a little grace. I felt good enough about myself again to just enjoy the present moment.
It is fair to concede that Carl Hiaasen did not have me in his thoughts when he was writing his book about Burmese Pythons over running south Florida. In the end, he wrote a enjoyable book and it felt good to simply enjoy reading it.
A while back I read How Starbucks Saved my Life by Michael Gates Gill. In the interest of full disclosure I read it out of curiosity, as opposed to organic intellectual interest. In other words I read it to see how that memoir compared to my historical fiction novel, Tripio. I may offer a full review in a later post. But for now I will simply offer a comparison of “How” to Tripio, ingeniously using coffee as the yardstick.
How Starbucks Saved my Life = Blonde Roast
Lightly roasted coffee that’s soft, mellow and flavorful. Easy-drinking on its own and delicious with milk, sugar or flavored with vanilla, caramel or hazelnut.
Tripio = Espresso
A complimentary blend of bean of differing origins: it is intense, deeply flavored and when brewed correctly leaves a lingering sweet aftertaste.
Starbucks books I have yet to read
I am also following up on my intention to find other books about Starbucks. I was curious to see if there were other novel length works of fiction out there with a Starbucks flavor. Ha, ha. I found the list below via Christine McHugh who is a Starbucks alum and author of the soon to be released From Barista to Boardroom. I will admit that I have yet to read any of the titles below expect the aforementioned but have pre-ordered from Barista to Boardroom after speaking with author by phone. Both Barista and How can be and probably are called memoirs and so are non-fiction as are all the books on the list below.