Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Caffeinate Me!

"Medium mochajava, half-caf, soy, sugar-free, no foam, no whip, 115degree, latte - double-cupped and sleeved."

"Large caramel, skim, decaf, iced, upside down macchiato."

" Small drip. "

Isn't it amazing that there is a whole culture and language associated with coffee? This coffee culture looks and sounds something like this:

Inhabitants enter their caffeine habitat and form a long row, each facing the back of the next. They stand in silence, occasionally searching the clear glass vessels containing sustenance for the morning meal. Their eyes move from the glass vessels to tablets placed above them. They appear to ponder over their next move and how they are going to be successful in their hunt for nutrition and hydration. In turn, each steps forward until they are facing another inhabitant at the front of the row. The only sound heard is when the two communicate in a language understood only by other members of their culture. The language appears to only consist of adjectives, but somehow the communication is clear. The inhabitant in the line exchanges some currency - usually made out of some type of plastic, and within minutes, the morning hunt is complete. The inhabitant proceeds to either a designated eating area where an electronic device or informational material is observed; or to their transportation vessel where then they partake in fruits of their hunt - still in silence. -Mozilo, 2008

Now I must confess, that I am part of this coffee culture. I love coffee and even have my own special coffee shop that I frequent. I will stand in line with the rest, not saying a word to anyone until I am at the counter. I then sputter my favorite drink order - Venti, half-calf, sugar-free, soy, vanilla latte, no foam, no whip. I hand my cash (yes I do use cash) or my gift card to the cashier, and I am off on my merry way. Sometimes I sit at a table with my nose in a book, oblivious to the world going by me. Cell phones, conversations, and situations elude me as I retreat into my own little caffeinated cave. I become self-absorbed, introverted and disconnected with everyone around me.

Not long ago, it dawned on me how many opportunities for connection that I was missing. By hiding out behind my latte I was shielding myself from relationship with people that I saw almost every day. I decided to make an effort to be more aware of the people around me at the coffee shop- what they looked like, what their lives might be like, how often I actually came in contact with them and hadn't ever uttered a word to them. But, how could I connect?

Then the idea of all ideas struck me! I could open my mouth and just talk to them. At first it was a little intimidating. I wasn't sure of what to say. That underlying fear of rejection that most of us seem to carry around would rear it's ugly head and I would want to clam up. But not too long after I implemented my brilliant idea, I began to see the rewards roll in. I began to feel better through connecting with others. By stepping out of my "coffee culture" I began to find people that similar interest and life stories and situations as I did. I built a "coffee community."

What are some ways that you can connect and build community with others? Do you have any fears about talking to people you don't know? I challenge you to find one or two people to connect with today through conversation, e-mail or a letter. When you have, post a response at let other's know what your experience was like.

I'm looking forward to reading about how it went!

P.S. If you are really nervous about talking to a new person, have a double espresso....you will have no shortage of words :)!

1 comment:

  1. It's funny how desperate we all are for community, especially the more technologically advanced we become. I have found an incredible community in a "difficult" place. I receive chemo each week, and have developed such a bond with my chemo sisters. We have nothing in common other than a fight for our lives and a drip of toxins, but we have developed deep bonds. I Never thought that little old me, 41 years old, mother of an 11 1/2 year old, would have a 69 year old Greek and Irish grandmother for one of my dear dear friends. I hear about her 80 year old husband, hear about her trials with her children, whom she loves tremendously, and hear her struggle each week with news about her health and maintenance of it, and we are bonded. She hears of my hopes, fears, irritations, my health struggles, etc. Another dear friend is a 75 year old African American grandmother, great-grandmother, amazing piller of strength. She is precious to me, even though all we really have in common is the disease and the drip. These are intense circumstances, but we have forged friendship out of the loneliness of a chemo infusion room. All it took was a smile, a whispered, "is this your first time? Don't worry about it. I"ll tell you what it's like, what to expect..." and the bond is formed. It's funny, we don't necessarily talk that much....but we are together, we have contact with one another, we pray for one another, and we are not alone in our dilemma. How powerful and comforting that is! I guess I just want to say that we need to reach out and speak to each other, or just smile at one another, or just let each other know we are here and so are they! It is such a comfort to have company....


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