A Thousand Tiny Points of Light

Maybe despair is a serpent, gnawing at the root. Maybe it is a long draught of bitter poison. Maybe it aches too much to say what it really is. But in its darkness, I have learned a cure: the presence of those dear.

It works over miles. Nearness would be better, but there can be phone calls in the night, a voice on the other end, and we are all connected, a vast web stretched out over cities and towns, north to south, east to west. It works over time. We grow stronger from the presence of our friends in our lives. We learn the art of speaking true things. We learn the art of listening. Healing arts, we learn them imperfectly. We learn to be each other’s pillars, we help bear the burdens that each could not alone, and all of us are there when it becomes too heavy, when one needs to stop, unload, maybe to cry a bit.

We are a net of a thousand tiny points of light, spread out over the distance. For the two in the morning calls, for the opportunity to listen, for the ability to speak our troubles.

8/1/2009: corrected grammar


Last week was a week of recovery for me, a sorting of self. I had meant to post here, but then found myself taking solace in aloneness. It was a needed thing. I am better for it.

That leaves the fact that I missed a week of posting. I have done this in the past, and previously just let the week slip. I do not believe I will be doing that anymore. I think there is greater value in “making up” the posts I missed. With only one post a week, I don’t think this task will be difficult. From this time onward, every time I miss a post, you can expect two the next week.

Also, the editing bug has been gnawing at me. I want to comb through old posts and correct grammar and spelling where I carelessly misused them. To that end, I will do so, because with most of the posts here, timeliness was not the issue, but instead my concerns are flow, cadence, and idea. Misspellings trip up a person in creative pieces like these. It seems dishonest, though, at least in the medium of a blog, to correct such errors after the fact. I am going to compromise. I am going to correct, but I will include an end note which names the type of correction and the date of the correction. No serious edits will occur, only typos will be fixed thus. Previously, I snuck them in when they really REALLY got to bothering me.

As it stands, then, expect a little more later in the week. I have a post to make up.

A Liturgy for Caffeina

It is a ritual for a Wednesday: the last of the previous week’s roast steeping in the press, and I stand, preparing the green coffee beans for this week’s worship. I am a novice in this ritual. Caffeina does not rank her followers, but each task has its own order. I am an adept of the all-nighter, the brain-storm, the last-minute-writing-to-deadline-rush. I am an initiate of the mystery of the bean. I am merely a beginner in the rites of roasting.

As clumsy as I am in this, as uneven my roasts, I have to tell you, anything which can still my flurry of thoughts, which can tame the hydra of my mind, has got to be a holy thing. My head is never quiet. Not until this nectar of the Gods passes my lips. I am at the mercy of the bang pop clatter crash of the notions welling up–tasks left half-finished, tumbling into incoherence. An exercise, an example? Stop thinking linearly. Geometrically, imagine that every thought you have is equidistant from your current thought, a sphere of notions. They exist all at once, or perhaps rapid fire, creating this web of ideas linked only by the stimulus that spawned them. The statement “cheddar is pretty good,” logically follows the question “what soda had you liked best as a child?” because the soda was root beer and the first time you had it, your aunt served it with party appetizers, including various types of cheeses– of which Swiss and cheddar were among– and you had an abiding love of cheddar since before that time. And all of this remembering occurs in a split second, along with a great deal of other thoughts and memories, like the décor at your aunt’s party, and the taste of the Swiss which made you twitch in disgust, and that time that you asked for muenster on your sandwich and your friend made it with Swiss instead, not knowing… so you see, cheese is the logical topic to discuss when soda is brought up. This mode of thinking is my native land. Every sentence births a seething mass like this, and nothing but that black brew can stem the tide.

Caffeina bless this task. I sip my coffee plain before I set the beans in the preheated pan. There is something of Zen in this doing: I am whole and here as the roasting begins, a rhythm of moving the skillet, a pattern to turning the beans. This is my calm, my center. I smile at the first crack, watching these seeds go dusty green to gold to chocolate. For the first time all day, the chattering is still. These are the gifts of Caffeina: sharpness, presence, clarity.

I pull the roast from the heat, step outside to blow off all the “chaff.” The beans tinkle against the sides of the glass jar as I pour them in to set. I will at first leave the lid off. I will seal it firmly tomorrow. Caffeina bless this task.