Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Making the Ordinary Precious: revisiting the cup of coffee

The common practice/addictions often become common because they are accessible private or social pleasures around which we celebrate our days. What's problematic of course is when we're so wedded to such practices we can't seem to function without them. What's worse is when we find out that what we begin to call "functioning" isn't functioning - at least not optimally. Does that mean that these pleasures are evil? Can they be redeemed?

Recently, for example, i wrote about the effect of caffeine on our sleep quality. In sum, it can really really disrupt the restorative phase of sleep, the deep sleep cycle. Does that make coffee evil? 

At the time i wrote the above post, i was actually *really* tired, heading into the last leg of a long business road trip. The airline had lost my bag, didn't know where it was and i was sitting in a workshop with a colleague saying to me "i've never seen you look so tired." Super.

Normally, at times like this i would have fled to the nearest coffee pot and tried to jack up. It then occurred to me that perhaps what my body was telling me was that i needed some sleep, and wouldn't it be nice, rather than interfering with the quality of that process, i actually let myself *get* some sleep that evening. So i opted not to get the coffee. And i didn't touch any coffee for the next four days. Alas i didn't have my zeo on this trip to check the shifts in deep sleep cycle, but i know how i felt with a four day java break. What happened on day four?

The Best Cup.  When i was gigging my way through grad school, our band's drummer, Burt Harris, had a simple heuristic: no beer for the band till the last set break.

I was reminded of that on the last day of the workshop as  a colleague, Jen Waak, and i went for lunch and decided to go for coffee at the neighboring starbucks where i had whatever passes for a small latte. i asked them please (a) to make it with love and (b) not to scald the milk, as this was a precious, rare coffee. It was fabulous. For which i was really grateful since not all starbucks experiences are equivalently  dandy.

I know it had only been four days, but that coffee was *so* nice.

Considering how i'd felt getting my recovery back while not being on coffee, and how good that single latte tasted, well it got me thinking: maybe there are benefits to rare-ing out the common into the precious. That way perhaps even our simple pleasures can become exquisite ones - affordably, wonderfully, easily. 

Fave Places for Precious Blends? Please let me know if you've given such a strategy a go and how it's working. Also, if you have a fave non-chain coffee place - what is it and why is it a fave. For me, when i'm in Edinburgh around the eScience Center, i make a pilgrimage to Black Medicine. Awesome

my gratitude to Heidi Rothenburg for the zipfizz on that first day off the plane with no luggage and no sleep.
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