In continuing the theme of life in this current moment, I think it’s time to acknowledge the simple pleasures of a morning cup of coffee. Whether you take your coffee with cream and sugar, all black, or like me iced, I think many of us have overlooked the joys of our morning brew.
For many, coffee is just something that’s there. Forgettable and unimpressive, it’s the thing we drink without even thinking about it. Now I’m no coffee connoisseur. I’m not here to write about who makes the best coffee, even though we all know Dunkin makes better ice coffee while Starbucks makes the better cold brew. What I want to discuss is how in our new normal everyday tasks can offer harmony instead of balance.
In my experience, I felt like I had to find balance in staying at home. The pressures of work, comfort of home, and anxiety of the ongoing situation constantly raced around my mind. There were times when I felt like I had a grasp on my thoughts. Claiming I struck a balance was only temporary. In trying to focus on remaining productive at work, I was neglecting duties at home and in self-care. But the same was true if I focused on one area, like self-care even, more than the others. I found that the idea of finding balance caused more imbalance.
I recently discovered that I don’t like the ideology of “finding balance.” When you’re looking for this, it means that there are usually opposing forces fighting for dominance. But as people the different fields of our lives, those complexities and responsibilities, are what make us well rounded. Rather than hoping to achieve balance i started to consider how to harmonize the different parts of my life.
Harmonization at its core means adding things together to make a complimentary combination. While it seems like a forever ago, I vividly remember never fully enjoying my morning rituals. I was in a mad dash to power through a morning workout, blast out some emails, and tune into the latest news. In my head, none of the things I was doing seem connected. Even my morning coffee was just something that was there out of habit. The drink was even hot with no decorum at all. Not at all the standard I hold when grabbing something from a chain like Starbucks.
As I started to look for harmony I understood that not all my responsibilities were treated equally and with the same care. There have been more mornings where I decide to just want to sit with my thoughts, catch up with friends and family, or spend another minute really smelling that coffee I’m making. I noticed I wasn’t moving as fast through my to-do list as I used to. How could I? With our current situation, I cannot take these beats of everyday life for granted.
Rather than mindlessly marching into the kitchen, I now stroll there with my phone and computer in hand. As my coffee poured into my cup, I started reading through my emails. Against my first instinct, I wouldn’t start replying immediately. Instead, I first took a minute to appreciate the steam curls that unwound over my ceramic cup. As the radiating heat calmed into steady streams, I also lined up my thoughts. The most urgent emails were addressed promptly. Anything that could wait a minute I marked for later. Because as important as it is for me to remain productive at work I had to also remain productive in my active lifestyle. A part of my identity that is important to me as well.
Whether it was just a stretching session or a brisk walk on the treadmill, I took the time to complete a task that made me feel whole. And instead of clamping my computer closed, I used this time to watch any clips or projects that I had to for work. The different parts of my life weren’t separate and I wasn’t in a competition to balance them out. My worlds were now harmonizing as these different tasks were being addressed together. It wasn’t as anxiety inducing as I once thought. My mind was clear and I truly felt focused on all I was doing. I could, and should, feel like all of these things matter at the same level.
As my personal quarantine calendar has reached the 20s (I started the day CA announced its stay home order) I have started to feel at peace with this new reality. My days aren’t as productive as they used to be, and that’s perfectly okay. Because what matters most during this time is not how many miles I run or the number of emails I send out, it’s the quality of what I do. Thus, taking the time to make my coffee, really taste it, and even serve it over ice, adds a splash of harmony into what is a truly an unprecedented time in my life and of countless others.
I encourage you that next time you make your morning roast take just a minute longer. Grab your favorite mug, think about what flavor of creamer best suits your brew, and ask yourself if you want it piping hot or cool as a cucumber. Maybe even bring it into a space that you normally would not as well. When worlds collide it can be jarring, but if you invite different parts in gradually it can feel enriching. I guarantee that treating every task with care and importance will make you day end more fulfilled.