Tea or coffee? I think I’ll have coffee today.
Growing up, I was a staunch tea drinker. I would insist on hating coffee, but, oddly, would down a cappuccino or espresso with nary a shudder. As if they were so much more different than just “coffee”. The strong, intense flavor made me feel, well, sophisticated. Older. Mature.
Slowly, as Winters and Falls tumbled over each other in succession, I have found comfort in a warm cup – either bean or leaf.
Source: weheartit.com via Jo on Pinterest
I’m not quite sure if this makes me truly mature or sophisticated, but I definitely feel older.
And then sometimes, not. Like, yesterday, when I was next to speak in a roundtable discussion, and I could feel my heartbeat rise, my skin flush and my breathing change. I chided myself for responding like a flustered first year at school, but at that moment, I could grasp all of the times I’d felt truly nervous to speak up and those where I had spoken with confidence, conviction and strength.
Old and new.
Young and old.
Isn’t it odd how they can swap positions?
“Nothing exists as a permanent entity; everything changes. . . In our ignorance we believe that there is a peramanet entity in us, and our pain and suffering manifest on the basis of that ignorance.”
Thich Nhat Hanh on Why We Suffer in Your True Home
When I was a freshman in college, I distinctly remember sitting in a circle on the cold tiles of the hallway, and waiting nervously for the circle to close on me. We were “getting to know each other” before term started and everyone was sharing their future goals. “I’m taking engineering” or “I want to be a nurse” were heard more than once since my school focused heavily in those areas. I was there on scholarship and, at the time, firm in my conviction of getting a Geology degree and straight on to Paleontology. Do not stop at Go.
I would rethink my life that year and change courses to English Literature. Something I like to think of as gathering one love closer while still holding onto the other by hand.
However, when my time came to say my given degree and hopeful future, I began “When I grow up…” and immediately cringed.
When I grow up?
Wasn’t I already “grown up” at 18 and entering college on my own? How much more “growing up” did I need to do? (Needless to say, quite a bit.)
I felt childish, embarrassed and so little compared to those sitting around me.
It still bothers me, in a way, because I still don’t quite feel like I’ve “grown up”. Sure, I’m older, I have some grey hair and I’ve even changed career paths. We own a pet bird, have a car, and saving up for a mortgage. In the eyes of the world, I’ve basically “grown up” enough that I can even rent a car on my own. I suppose you could argue that my response was innocent enough and just an automatic one given the nature of the question being asked.
In my head, though, I don’t feel like I’ve “grown” in any way. I do more, I pay more and I love more, but who I am is still muddied. I fret about whether my life is going the way it should, or whether I’m wasting precious time. I worry about my actual response to those questions and just keep on with the routine, hoping to make each day go by smoothly, nicely. Blindly.
But now, I wonder if I’ve got that a bit wrong. A bit skewed.
Drinking cappuccinos like water didn’t suddenly make me “old” or “sophisticated”. Even now, I love my coffee, but I love flavored coffees like the Pumpkin Spice coffee from Trader Joe’s. My sense of self hasn’t miraculously changed, like a light switching on, but it has continuously evolved.
Here I am, sipping coffee, but tomorrow, I might have tea again. What the hey! I might have tea and coffee.
Dissolving that fabricated image of a predestined “me” won’t happen with one swirl of the spoon. I need to constantly remind myself that who I am is what I am. Now. Not the me of some distant, imaginary future or the me of the past.