I was tired yesterday. I mean I woke up at 1:30 am and couldn’t go back to sleep. I got home from a long day at 8:30 pm and it was a good but grindy day. I have really limited my caffeine intake since the New Year, I mean no Diet Coke at all...(Who am I???) and only one cup of decaf in the morning. It has been good. I feel better. I feel more level, less intense and less riding out the extremes.
But yesterday I knew that I was going to need a pick me up to get me through the grind...so I stood at Pierre LaFond talking with my barista that has become some sort of intermittent therapist. Seriously, she has mad people skills and seems to get me in a way that many people don’t. And more than anything else, she remembers me and what I like to drink...which is a lovely thing in this world where everything and everyone feels so disconnected and distant.
So I ordered: "Large, Soy, Sugar Free Vanilla Latte, On Ice, please."
She replied: “Decaf?”
Now if I went there every single day then I would expect that she knew about my whole caffeine diet. But I don’t. In fact, I have been there once to order coffee in the last six months. I did happen to go last week. And she remembered that I drink decaf...I was impressed! I mean we had one conversation (it was pretty interesting) last week and she remembered not only me, but how I take my coffee. I have literally dated men for way longer than I would like to admit that still do not know how I fucking take my coffee (ok, that was years ago, but still!)
So yesterday, she let me know that she noticed me. My habits. My needs. It was life affirming. Now, before you think that I have set the bar way too low that I was so impressed that this woman remembered me from a week before, I will tell you, again, that I have dated people in the past that, well, I am just gonna leave that there...more for my benefit than yours!
This woman is something. She is amazing. Really. She has taken on epic ideas in my mind. She is present, open and loving. Maybe to everyone but especially to me! And I love her for it.
So as I stood there contemplating the only two choices I saw: leaded or unleaded (little gas joke for the oldtimers), she could see I was struggling.
My thought process:
“I don’t do caffeine anymore...I really shouldn’t succumb today.”
“I am going to need caffeine to round out my day...seriously, I have way too much on my plate today with too little sleep, I need it.”
"But no, don't awaken the beast..."
"BUT, I am so fucking tired right now...and I have computer training in thirty minutes, on Zoom..."
And so I stood there, caught in a trap of my own making. A trap that I set and get caught in a great deal...often. A few moments passed, still I stood there unable to make the transition from indecision to decision.
She observed me...then after watching me struggle, she said the most amazing thing to me...
“What if you did half & half?”
Seriously the thought had never occurred to me. I would likely still be standing there shuffling back and forth between the extremes in which I live my life, all or nothing.
And I laughed. Hard. Out loud. So did she. We smiled at each other. I wanted to hug her. But instead I said,
“Thank you. Seriously. You do not know how much you just helped me...”
She laughed and smiled and we chatted. She said some profound shit that I will save for a later post. Today, I really want to focus on the point that, I did not even see that there was a middle. So caught I was between all or nothing, black and white, no shades of grey or middle ground. Just me and my idle or full throttle way of being.
I am so grateful that she pulled me out of my orbit and placed me on a road that I travel more frequently today than I ever have, that middle path. That place that honors both extremes by meeting each one half way. There is always a middle choice, and I always seem to miss it in my mad dash to the opposite extreme.
But I didn’t yesterday, thanks to her. I saw that my insistence on living on the two opposite ends of the spectrum, exhausting. All this running back and forth between the two. Always being sure that the answer lies at the opposite end of whatever spectrum I am currently navigating.
Nope. Middle seems to be where it is at. Middle is wide and welcoming. The extremes hard and narrow. I am not sure what the aversion to the middle is, perhaps I fear it boring. Perhaps I just have lived so long this other way, that anything else just misses me entirely. Perhaps I am not present enough within myself to pause and even look for another path.
Do not get me wrong. There is a part of me that loves the perimeter. The place where I cheat death and risk big. But that life always requires me to pull back, because I cannot live on the bleeding edge today. I just don’t have the youth and energy for it anymore. So my pushing it to the limits now requires a pulling back and inward that sometimes takes quite a lot of energy to get going again. And perhaps, just maybe, if I stayed a little more in the middle, I would have more energy to dedicate to going deeper.
And that happened yesterday, with a barista in Pierre LaFond. We had ourselves a moment. Two humans doing their thing but for an instant, we helped each other. Her serving me and me serving her. I know I got more than she did because she gave me life advice and a latte and I gave her an opportunity for spiritual practice. But still, I am grateful for both, the coffee and the guidance.
I walked back to my office plugged fucking in. Laughing and smiling to myself about this touching in with humanity, mine and hers. It made for a good afternoon. And while I am sure my lightly caffeinated beverage assisted in the elevation of my energy and mood, really it was her. Her being present enough to see me, in a place where I am not sure that anyone really sees each other. She gave me way more than a latte, she gave me the priceless gift of being seen and appreciated in a world that feels so despotic of late. And I remain forever in her debt and a little more caffeinated, which actually turns out to be quite all right.