Now what? From driving around my dead grandpa to smelling the coffee.
Coffee wasn’t always legal. In the 1500’s coffee was banned in Middle Eastern society - a trend that spilled over to Europe too. And its biggest threat was how this beverage brought people together in coffeehouses - places to get together, discuss and debate ideas. The fear of the political and religious institutions of the day was that such open discussion could spark unorthodox ideas that challenged assumptions and convention - the very ideas that gave these institutions their power. In short, they feared that consuming coffee can birth new ideas. And change. There are even some sources that credit coffee for starting the French Revolution. Luckily Pope Clement VIII declared coffee to be delicious and gave coffee his blessing, allowing coffee shops to spread across Europe.
Coffee shops still carry that same spirit today.
They are in-between places.
Between the meeting and the follow-up.
Between losing one job and starting the next.
Between one career ending and the new one (that you can’t define yet).
The place of first dates and break-ups.
Where we go when we don’t have money to spend but need to get out.
Where we go to process.
Where something stirs that we haven’t thought of before.
Where a word, sound or smell reminds us of something that feels like home.
And gently pulls our hearts to something new.
Something that yearns to take form.
Pubs and bars offer temporary escape, but coffee shops invite us to go deeper. We don’t avoid the reality but somehow just remember that the world is so much bigger than the storm that’s been raging in our teacup lately. Our frame feels bigger. We feel a part of the real world again. Seen. And somehow this thing I’ve been carrying feels less scary than it did in my imagination.
For the 6 years I’ve been involved with coffee it always struck me how much coffee was a launchpad for people. Coffee spaces are “wondering” places. Wondering “now what?” Together. At this point in history we all find ourselves in a place where the life we’ve known has disappeared. The identity we built (successful freelancer, entrepreneur, world-traveler, artist, businesswoman, optimist, writer, teacher, concert-goer, movie buff, barista, activist…) feels suddenly empty. If we’re honest it outwardly looks the same but it feels like driving our dead grandpa in the car and having to pretend that it’s a live person when a traffic cop stops us. It just takes so much energy! And we’re so scared of the emptiness we might find without that thing. Because without it…“now what?” We find ourselves in-between. Lockdown has been relaxed and outwardly it looks like everyone else has got it all back together. So surely I should be getting on with it too? Am I the only one that still feels something in me is off?”
As long as you and I both let our hand-puppets of who-we-were do the talking, our hearts won’t really connect. Our connection will feel fake precisely because it is fake.
All I know for certain is that some things have been lost. And I cannot quite see what’s next yet. And trying to figure it out at this stage is just exhausting. Because I am trying to predict what the “other side” of “in-between” will look like. But that is attempting the impossible at this stage.
The only thing I really can do is be here. And do the one next thing. And be honest with myself with the fact that I’m in-between and stop spending energy trying to pretend that my old identity is still alive and kicking. Perhaps if I’m honest in this way you might find the courage to be honest too. And we can be “in-between” together. Openly. With vulnerable shared hearts. We can mourn together. Because there’s something spacious even in that. We can dream together. Laugh. And we can do it in the traditional “in-between” space where people have for centuries. With the once-illegal smell of freshly brewed coffee swirling around us.