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Ok, stay with me here. There seems to be a general ‘coffee’ theme running through everything I do lately. I was meeting a friend and we were having a pretty intense discussion about a pretty serious issue and I went off on a ‘journey of the coffee bean’ tangent. I was worried about her eyes glazing over, but when they filled with tears, I knew I was on the right track.

You know what my favorite thing about words is? On rare pronounced occasions they have the power to slice through all the mush inside my brain and effortlessly slide into the four-chambered thing I call a heart, instantly transforming my perception of reality.

In a nutshell: The journey of the coffee bean story is essentially one of appreciation. It’s saying, you and I (my friend) could not be sitting right here, right now, in this perfect moment, at Starbucks, enjoying this cup of coffee, unless these coffee beans had made the incredible journey here. We need to appreciate that. A cup of coffee is more than (as one of my great heroes, Ani Difranco, says) water stained with brown.  The beans grew somewhere under the nurture of sun and rain. They faced tremendous obstacles. They were harvested by hands that worked long hours in (probably) difficult conditions. Many many natural resources were absorbed in order for the beans to be packaged and then put on a truck and then onto an airplane or a boat and brought here, to the United States, where more resources were used to get them ready and get them from one place to another, until finally, they could arrive here, in Austin, Texas, where a kid who calls me ‘ma’am’ and who got up way too early this morning for his own good, is grinding them in a machine and wiping down tables and washing dishes, and waiting hand and foot on people, all so that you and I, could sit here, right here, in this perfect moment and enjoy this cup of coffee and this time together.

Everything comes from somewhere. And the simple art of appreciating a cup of coffee makes us much more capable of appreciating EVERYTHING and everyone in our lives.

So as my friend was tearing up, I had that warm fuzzy feeling I get when I know that someone is feeling me, and that they’re opening up to what I’m saying, and that they’re going to take that space that’s a little wider, and little more open, back into their life when they leave me.  I LOVE THAT! It’s a beautiful thing! And I love the people in my life who do that for me. So I was all about the ‘journey of the coffee bean’ story for a day or  two.

BUT THEN, in related news, I read the carrot/egg/coffee story that someone posted on my Facebook.  Here it is (and you can thank me later for abbreviating it, because the original takes a little long to get to the point.)

A mother and daughter are fighting. The daughter has the RIDs (restless, irritable and discontent) and she’s complaining about how hard life is. So the mother brings her in the kitchen and puts 3 pots of water on the stove. In one, she drops some carrots.  In another, a few eggs.  In the last one, COFFEE beans (see-weird with the coffee theme running through my life, right?)

After a while she pulls everything off the stove and asks the daughter, what do you see?

The carrots are mushy.

The egg is hard.

The beans made coffee.

Obvious enough, right?

The mother points out that all three of these things faced the same adversary…boiling water.

The carrot went in soft but let life turn it to mush.  The egg went in with a tough exterior and let life turn it brittle and hard inside. The coffee beans however, transformed the adversary (boiling water) into something rich and delicious.  It took time and patience, but the boiling water became coffee.

I like the story. Maybe it’s because I live in a constant state of exhaustion right now, interrupted only by an alarm clock that tells me it’s time to get up and do it all again. Maybe it’s because I think food is such an important resource and I love stories about it. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for transformation…for believing that nothing in life can have any power over us except the power we give it (I exclude alcohol and drugs from this equation, since I am CLEARLY powerless over those.)

Either way, much love today as you jump into the boiling water of life…and may you be the coffee bean and appreciate the journey.