If I drank a cup of coffee today, it would be a momentous occasion…seeing as how nary a drop of this cherished elixir has ever passed these lips of mine since I arrived on this earth some 54 years ago. Should I break down now, after decades of faithful abstinence, and deeply imbibe this seemingly universally adored beverage? No…I think I will go to my grave never having tasted the stuff. You can put that on my tombstone if you’d like…”Norm Tedford…the man who never drank a cup of coffee.” I rather enjoy the sound of that. You got to have have a lasting legacy in this transitory world of ours, and this might as well be mine. It just never really appealed to me. Just something about it. Now…don’t get me wrong. I love the smell of it brewing – its intoxicating aroma that is somehow both pungent and inviting. Still, you cannot tempt me to drink a cup now no matter what you do. No…It’s been too many years. I would not even know where to start. It is much too late for me to embark on a career as a coffee connoisseur. I would walk into a Starbucks, and their dizzying array of options would so disorient me, that I would fall headlong onto their hard ochre floor and probably suffer a concussion. I would be completely overwhelmed if I tried to order a cup at this advanced age. Some may think that it is highly improbable that I never drank so much as a cup of this apparently exhilarating liquid. To this I say…boldly come forth with photographic evidence if you have it.
I never wanted to taste the stuff because it seemed like such an adult rite of passage. I thought I could forestall the inevitable advent of adulthood if I never succumbed. I wanted no part of the adult world, with its oppressive cares and worries…its attendant psychic distress and neuroses. The world of my childhood seemed too reminiscent of the world of the 1950s, where everyone drank coffee, lived in beautiful domiciles straight out of the pages of “Better Home and Gardens”, and suffered from a stultifying conformity. I did not want to be like everyone else and lose the qualities that made me unique. Lots of folks are nostalgic for this period in our recent history. Not I. I thought that if I ever touched the stuff, I would suddenly undergo a hideous and irrevocable transformation into an adult, and forever lose my childlike freedom. Part of me still retains this loathsome fear. I won’t ever give in to this sort of joyless existence, so do not tempt me with your caramel macchiatos and your cinnamon dolce lattes with their insanely robust flavor and off the charts mouthfeel.
Now, I see the numinous joy of reality; feel an ineffable presence in everything that I encounter. If I caved and had myself a cup, I fear my perceptions would darken. No longer would I be able to perceive the incandescent joy of a sunflower, dancing in a sultry August breeze. I would lose my ability to feel the all-embracing love of a beneficent universe. I will have none of it. So please get that brown poisonous substance out of my sight. It is, to my eyes, an exceedingly terrifying toxin. I know that it is a killer of dreams. A part of me believes that if I so much as let a drop of it travel down my esophagus, there will be no turning back. I will traverse a long, lonely highway; the end of which will be the grave. If not a literal one, a metaphorical one.
I have so utterly convinced myself of this that I am afraid by now that the horrifying delusion may be true. I would lose my childlike joy and wonder, along with everything that made me special. I know what that bloody toxin will do to me. Please take it away. Except…coffee really is not coffee. You see where I’m going with this, don’t you? It is merely a symbol. It could be anything, really; paying taxes or getting your first car or having to go to your first funeral. Spending tedious hours in the soul-crushing blandness of a cubicle. It is only emblematic of an adulthood that becomes overly serious and joyless. It does not have to be that way.
You can drink your coffee and still be childlike. Do not let your inner child be silenced by the myriad responsibilities of adulthood. There are so many things out there conspiring to snuff out the effervescent, innocent part of your nature. Refuse to succumb to these joy killers. When I was a child, I did not know that I could still partake in the solemn ceremonies of adulthood and not let the inner candle of my youthful wonder burn out. We should never lose our amazing capacity to get rapturous delight from the simplest of things. Stay intimately in touch with the dancing fire of your soul. Remember that the universe is playful. Feel it burning within you with an intense aliveness and do not surrender to the grinding forces of ennui and desperation. Drink your coffee and pay your bills. But, keep your inner child alive by surrendering to the rapturous joy of the universe.
Do not settle for a stultifying and joyless version of adulthood. Never lose sight of the transcendent beauty that lies all around you and within you. Reinvigorate yourself by peering into the tiny universes that pulsate within the shimmering spaces between the translucent dew drops on a rose petal. Gaze into the breathtaking clarity of an azure sky, and feel on a visceral level its utter vastness, and realize its endless spaciousness also exists within you. Walk reverently in a forest, and revel in the heart-aching majesty of a single tree. Allow it to pull you into a silent reverie as you see that both you and it are one. See the grandeur and sacred architecture of a bird’s nest and fall in love with its indescribable symmetry. Be a mad monk drunk on divine love. And remember the lessons imparted to us by dreamers such as Albert Einstein and St. Francis, who never succumbed. Don’t get supercilious by becoming overly serious.