Saturday, January 13, 2024

Lesser Gods



I like to think of coffee as a lesser god in the pantheon of addictions. Oh, actually a goddess, since I do think of coffee as a female. She is the not the pushy one who will muscle up to you at a bar and say, can I buy you a drink? And she’s not the guy slithering up to you at the party in the shiny suit and paper hat, saying, hey want a snort?

Coffee arrives in the early hours. She is perky and fun and says things like rise and shine, pumpkin or shake a leg, kitty—it’s time to get a move on.

When I taught at the arts high school, the first thing I would do during the first class of a new semester was to appoint a coffee girl or boy. The job of the coffee girl (mostly girls because they seem to be the most responsible), was to go out at the break to the café and get me a latté. I would give them enough money so they could buy a latté for themselves as well—so that I was not only fueling my own habit, but indoctrinating a newcomer into the wicked world of coffee addiction.

I come from a long life of coffee lovers. My father, loved his Folgers crystals—freeze dried for extra flavor! And my mother loved her Maxwell House. I have fond memories of taking the train with my father to NYC, getting off at Grand Central Station and stopping at the Chock Full of Nuts across the street. We sat at the counter with all the other commuters, balanced on the little stools and we ordered a cup of coffee and a jelly doughnut with powdered sugar. This ritual, this shared repast, this delicious combination—it was a revelation! This is why people go to work! This is why they want to earn money. This is why they’re willing to thrust their fragile beings out into the rough and tumble world. It’s for the coffee. It’s for the doughnut. But more than this, it’s for the coffee!

Creative Friends—I would like you to consider your personal rituals—the things that get you out from under the warm covers and over to the Smith Corona. Okay, the laptop, more likely. Ask yourself what are the little creature comforts that smooth the way from Sleep Land to Studio. Rather than thinking of your habits as dependencies, honor them as the sacred rituals--as necessary as air and water to being alive and creative. And then, get to work.



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