Anxiety and Morning Coffee
I love coffee. I enjoy the ritual of preparing it. Three scoops for a full pot, allowing the water to run, then getting that first taste of the bitter brew. Yes, I love the bitter taste of coffee. I guess I simply taught myself to enjoy dark, and bitter. It is a familiar place, a comfortable one, a good start for any day.
As I age, I begin to notice that in the morning, even though I wake up rather quickly, there has always been a form of ‘suffering’ associated with it. Yes a dramatic word, but I do not have another word for it. It is low key, deep, and it is apparent when I wake up. Coffee, the making of it, the aroma, and the bitterness seems to get me out of that space. When young it was not so strong this underlying anxiety, so I could ignore it, but now it is something that I face every morning, though it is really not all that much of a bother. Just a part of my life.
Like when I take an evening walk, I find it very soothing, comforting, and it makes it easier for me to awaken my mind a bit since in the evening I like most people, become very tired. Even then, there are evenings when I am tired, but find that I do not want to go to sleep, sort of like the feeling right after I wake up. I guess this is a common human experience, sort of like the commonness of grass, except this is my blade of grass.
I am happy that I can now say that I do have some anxiety, it helps me to put my anger issues into perspective as well. It is about learning that I can’t control much, but I can deal with how I interact with a world that can be a bit chaotic and very unpredictable.
I have come to believe that these experiences have a common thread associated with it. In some sense, both have to do with sleep. I am a very light sleeper, and I seem to dream right after I close my eyes. For instances, I can be reading in my room, say around 3 PM, then fall asleep for a few minutes, no more than five, yet when I wake up, it is in the middle of a dream. This is not uncommon in the population, but the majority of people seem to start dreaming further into their sleep cycle. I wonder if this has a little something to do with my morning’s feeling somewhat dark, empty, and the underlying anxiety.
I do know that when I get my coffee after I wake up, and walk out the front door of the retreat house, it always brings up a feeling of hope and even joy. On some mornings it is hot, and there is life all around me. Snails on the walkway, and the wall that keeps me from plunging over into the parking lot covered with many of these little, humble, creatures. Which by the way, are beautiful and elegant. Sometimes, I hear a lone bird calling out, or crickets seeking a mate, a lot of crickets. Cicada’s once in a while with their ear-piercing call will also greet me. Palmetto bugs as well. As long as stay outside they are good, but one step inside, well it does not end well.
Rain, and wind, I find it all soothing and delightful. I love to breathe in the cold air. I get a great deal of pleasure from listening to rain, both the gentle music of the falling raindrops as they hit the pavement or the leaves on the bushes and trees, that surround me. As well as the hard pounding heavy metal kind of storm, with high winds, and lightning and thunder. One morning as I was sipping my coffee, a very loud thunderclap boomed just above the Monastery. I jumped and spilled my coffee…..I laughed, a good way to start any day, with a laugh.
As long as I center myself on what is important at that time of the day, the anxiety soon dissipates, if I do not, it can linger, and become ‘The Noon-Day-Devil’, an experience of inner wandering, discontent, and a feeling that I am slowly dissipating into the wind. There are days when I seem to prefer that, being a hungry ghost, instead of being rooted in what is loving and eternal, beckoning me to respond.
To respond, to give time, to let go of what is really not that important, can for me, be difficult. I am not always sure why, but at bottom, one thing I do fear is love, as well as desire it. Yet love that is real, demands everything. Sometimes I put in my heels and act like a child holding it’s breathe…..fruitless I know, yet still something I do.
Perhaps I need to experience the ‘hell’ of my own inner emptiness if left to myself over and over again until I learn what I am made for. It is my own fear that keeps me from letting go and holding on to what is not only harmful but in the end useless.—Br.MD