He was right. “[Those] are the things that are out of your control. Doing [these things] is something you can control, so…its best to do them.”
It isn’t the most earth-shattering or profoundest of changes I have made in this story, but I believe it will make a difference: an environmental influence within my control. Plus, it’s a happy story. I reckoned it was time to share one of those…
I held out against drinking caffeine until I was in my second year at university, under the same umbrella of principles that kept me away from meat, cigarettes and alcohol. Gradually I realised that it was a terrible thing to lack vices. If I kept furiously abstaining from all the evils of this world, the rising likelihood would be that all my principles would come crashing down in a haze of drug-fuelled debauchery. And that would do me no good at all. So, I started drinking coffee and tea. And responsibly practised drug-free debauchery.
Anyway. Since then I’ve been a person who drank tea and coffee. Both had a role in my life: coffee was for firing me up, tea was for calming me down. I take both black: no milk or sugar. To a lot of people that’s slightly strange, but when I started drinking I never added anything, so for me that’s their “normal” taste. Milk is a ruinous additive to caffeine. I came to love espressos and a wide variety of teas (Earl Grey, Lapsang Souchong, green, mmm…).
As you can imagine, there was a slight shift when I left Britain for America. My tolerance for stronger coffees in pint-sized Starbucks cups grew. White-collar workplaces with their water coolers, air-con & coffee machines proved to be my undoing.
Back in the UK I joined a tea appreciation society at the University of Edinburgh (SocieTea, bless them) which introduced me to even higher calibres of tea: loose leaf Oolong, white teas, Darjeeling, Gunpowder Tea. During the final revision and exam period I would go to the library at 8.15am, stopping on the way for an espresso; then as the day wore on I’d pull out my 2 thermos flasks and sort out a nice cuppa on my library desk. Thus I attained an even level of productivity.
It was more than halfway through my current work in Switzerland that I realised something terrible had happened without me even noticing: I’d stopped drinking tea. I paid my respects to the coffee machine on our corridor multiple times a day, outside of work I’d always take espressos. I had packets of teabags in my apartment, but they had hardly been touched.
Coffee was all about firing me up. When I’m tired I tend to drink too much; it leaves me feeling light-headed, jittery and slightly disconnected (which doesn’t solve the tiredness). I don’t get any relaxing afterglow from coffee. If I had to choose between a sex and a cup of coffee…well…you best just hold on to that mug. Coffee doesn’t bring clarity of thought, it just brings a jarring buzz. It leaves a bitter aftertaste. YOU CAN’T SURVIVE ON COFFEE ALONE.
The fact that I was unhappy enough to write the last blog post “Broken” is due to a lot more factors than a lack of tea…but as I quoted above, when the world is divided into what I can and can’t control, it never hurts to make changes YOU are capable of. I really like drinking tea, I think it puts me in a good frame of mind, it won’t hurt to bring it back into my daily life.
Strong coffees have not been relegated. They just have to give way in the afternoon to tea. The balance has returned.