Bliss is the sound of coffee filling a sturdy mug in the pre-dawn hours of a new day.
For those of us who exist in a quasi-constant state of anxious apprehension towards life in general, having a reliable source of joy is crucial. I don’t know what it’s like to wake up and experience life as someone else. In my head, you all wake up with your mind gradually easing you back into the waking state like a child, gently nudged by a loving mother; stroking your hair and whispering sweet nothings into your innocent little ear. In my mind, that’s what your mind does. I’m envious of what my mind thinks your mind is does.
I like to imagine the mind as a control room. Think mission control at NASA. I’m picturing a scene from one of the nameless movies from my youth. Maybe Apollo 13? There is a HUGE screen at the front of the room through which all of the incoming data is filtered, processed, and analyzed by the folks running the control room. ‘Bob’ in row 2, seat 5, is there to make sure that the astronauts remember to close the valve on the space toilet. ‘Bonnie’ stares at a screen for 12 hours a day to make sure that this multi-billion dollar space craft doesn’t crash into the side of a rock hurtling through space. There is a chain-smoking middle-aged white guy with thick rimmed glasses and sweat stains on his perfectly starched shirt who is in charge of the whole operation. He wanders around nervously. It is his job to ensure that all the little parts function flawlessly so that the mission is successful. He knows that shit can and will go wrong. His true strength is mitigating disaster. Our Smoking Man operates in the gray areas of this story. He is presented with a plethora of hard facts. He is surrounded by highly capable and dedicated team members. Yet at all times he is waiting, anticipating that one thing that no one assumed could or would happen to happen. It’s his job to resolve that. Tough right? Unimaginable almost, right? Boy, I’m glad I’m not that guy in my head…
We all want to by that guy. But we’re not. At least I’m not. I’m assuming you’re not either. Me – the part of consciousness from which we develop a sense of self. Whatever the heck it is that gives us a sense that there is an us inside our head – I’m like C3PO from Star Wars. I’m there. I’m in the room. But I’m not the Smoking Man. I’m not even ‘Bob,’ the guy who keeps shit from getting on the steering wheel. I’m the one spilling coffee on the carpet and getting tangled up in wires asking everyone that walks by, “Hey, do you think this should be plugged into something?” I’m the one following the Smoking Man around the room asking things like, “Are we going to be OK?” “I’m getting kinda scared. I’m going to go lay down for a minute.” Or worse, “Guys! Jason brought that bean dip in again!”
I think that the key to reducing anxiety and obtaining some sort of stable and balanced mental health is to accept your role in the process and try to do your particular job to the best of your abilities and not to muddy the waters for the subconscious mechanisms taking place outside of your direct control. So, when I say that I think your mind eases you back into a waking state like a soothing mother, it is akin to a shift change in the control room. Team B comes in to replace Team A. They go over notes, trade relevant information, shake hands, wish each other Godspeed, and go home to take their kids to soccer, wash their cars, eat, and go to sleep. When I wake up, it feels more like Team B walking into the control room to find me running from station to station pushing buttons at random, saying, “Hey guys, um, hey. So, everyone left. I’m trying my best but I think things are a bit out of control.” Within milliseconds of waking up I’m six chapters deep into a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story and things aren’t looking salvageable.
So, coffee. One of the few moments that provide clarity and peace is that first cup of coffee in the morning. I experience more transcendent joy and optimism as I raise the carafe to the brim of a mug and allow that glorious liquid to cascade over the spout than I do the remaining waking hours of consciousness. I’ve had two cups while composing this nonsense, and I’ll probably have more while I refresh the screen awaiting your likes and approval. The day is just getting started. I’m going to try to stay out of everyones way in the control room and let them do their jobs. I need to find Jason and get the recipe for that bean dip. As much as I hate to give props to advertising, as I have stumble into adulthood (kicking and screaming mind you) I have to give a nod and wink to the folks behind Folgers’ ad campaign. Indeed, sometimes, the best part of waking up is some [coffee] in my cup.