Thursday, October 15, 2009


Grind the black beans, fill the basket with the dark loamy grounds. Pour the water into the reservoir, flick a switch or two. Technology does the rest. Idle in the air as the aroma spreads through the empty rooms. Such promise, such a portion of all that fickle resolve. Pour all that heat and steam, curling scent and trailing vapor as it burbles into the waiting mug. For a moment, all is well. Hot black coffee in a shiny steel cup.

So simplicity rewards, each step taken, the familiar graciously is fulfilled. Ritual is more powerful to the human mind than all the forces it may invoke. Novelty arises, often more in the when and where than so much the what. Happenstance and accident. Justice and peace. But it is the habitual that anchors us to the self we wear, habits of hand, habits of tooth. All these habits of mind that make us us, these thoughts at these moments. Lovely when the light touches us just so, remote and strange and glistening with something not unlike grace.

I lift the cup to my lips, left hand steady and deft with purpose. The rim of the cup is hot, the coffee is hot, the steam curdling from the bleak surface is hot. So many lessons in conductivity a part of my every first cup. Without first blowing upon the hot fluid, without trying to dispel the harsh ghosts of vapor, without worrying about hot well steel transmits energy, I touch the rim to my lips and take that small riotous sip. The heat and the bitter, the instant reward chemistry this familiar flavor triggers, one of the many blessings bestowed by the brain occurs. It is comfort, it is respite. It is a small dose of blazing kindness, the best moment of my day. A small, good thing accomplished, I swallow and I smile, ready for the downhill side.

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