Writing instead of pacing.
Pacing while thinking.
Thinking thinking, the neverending stream of thought: of wonder, of hope, of concern.
Like the Labyrinth of endless possibilities, my Minotaur mind rambles through scenario and logical conclusion and back again in every direction and every twist and turn. Looking through the concentric, jagged paths of a shattered windshield on a cold, rainy drive back to where I started. Round and round. Round, like Botero's Colombian family mistress. Like when there aren't the right words, and you talk a lot hoping to at least surround it. To lasso it.
I think because thought is mine, solely mine. I am the master of my thoughts; I think what I want to think and those thoughts become belief and reality. They become my essence. They transform me as heat transforms a coffee bean, as the aromatics from washed Ethiopian's lemon and jasmine and bergamot and darjeeling transform the air around me, as boots stomp through muddy roads high upon the mountains of rain-soaked and roya-infested Colombia. You can't hold me. I think what I want and who I am and what I do, and only I can decide what that is.
But thought is a fickle fellow, sometimes a rope around your ankle and sometimes around your neck, a tie tied too tightly. And sometimes it's a vast reflection into a river valley, coasting on the wind and on the back of a white horse, peering down to the winding ribbon of Cauca below and up the greenest grassy slope to the stand of trees hiding my dream of a house with no road, no trail, no way to reach it except on this horse. And my thought, my mind, my spirit becomes ensconced in love and fantasy, dreaming of waking up to these things I see, happy every day, in love, (in love) in love with the land and never taking for granted what surrounds me or who touches my left shirt pocket, calming the racing beast of a heart in my chest, never worrying so much that today becomes unimportant. Unimportant even though now I cannot see my love, the wrinkles in her grassy slope that smiles so earnestly and feels so soft against my thumb and my fingers, surrounding her and caressing her, but it's not just her features I love. It's her that I love. Her coffee trees that bear fruit through the joy of service, of labor, of helping and trusting and producing something you don't understand because someone asked you to.
It's the coffee I love. Coffee, the product of so many hands, on a tree, on the ground, on a ship, in a roaster, in your coffee brewer, in your cup and in your mouth, she feels so sweet and full and alive and we all feel grateful that today marks the most important day of this coffee's lifecycle, pleasing me in every way. Today.
But some desires are afar and outside, and yearning and longing sometimes can't change you, even though my mother always told me to be careful what I wished for because I might get it. That's what I want. To be careful. And to wish. And there are coffees out there, like that house on the hill in the stand of trees with the big shade tree just down the slope where I wanted to put a big leather chair so I could sit and read and watch my love smiling and bristling my fingernails against the inseam of her blue jeans, that I wish for and I just don't know. But I hope. And they tell me it's unavailable. You can't have it.
But I thought I could.
I thought the roaster that wanted it had decided he didn't want it any more and it was available again.
And I was given the tiniest bit, but the soul of it, the smallest 75 gram sample, and I roasted it so carefully and I was so gentle with it, so expressive with my experiences and deliberate in my affections for it, and I knew this coffee. I knew it from my youth. Not that I had known it before, but that I had dreamt of it, created it in my mind when I was but a boy and that creation created me. My deep desire and longing for this coffee created a man who could appreciate it, and the sample was but a whispering love song in my ear (had I no eyes, but ears, my ears would love that inward beauty, and invisible) and I knew instantly I wanted it and it wanted me, and we tasted one another on that cupping table (or were I deaf, thy outward parts would move each part in me that were but sensible), her body lay sweetly on my tongue (though neither eyes nor ears to hear nor see, yet would I be in love by touching thee), the perfume of her natural essence so destroyed my concern for her cost or with her previous engagement with the other roaster because her aromatics tore down the walls around my heart, and the little lookout I had left there in the tower of this fortress came to the king with the news that she had finally come and the king knew this was true before the words were even spoken (but what if the sense of feeling were bereft me and I could not see nor hear nor touch and nothing but the very smell were left me? Yet would my love for thee be still as much for from the still'tory of thy face excelling comes breath perfum'd that breedeth love by smelling).
And I thought she was mine. I thought her suitor had given her away, that he didn't want her any more, that he loved another coffee, and I let my heart be taken.
There are coffees that change my life. Some in small ways and some much bigger, teaching me how to drink and taste and smell and appreciate and to understand from where they come and how they came to be what they are, and all along the way wasn't it just preparation for the day when the one coffee came to me, so that I would recognize her and know how to care for her, how to roast her, how to cup her? And then I was told that the original purchaser decided to take the coffee after all. Maybe he just wanted it because he realized someone else wanted the coffee, and he felt the pangs of jealousy that motivate men to act. And my heart was pierced. And I say be careful what you wish for because you might NOT get it.
But this is a familiar scenario to me, my bleating heart lowing in the flat field of discouragement, looking up to that house on the hill, on the mountainside, toward the clouds where the vantagepoint is victory. But thought is mine. And my thought is the thought that creates me today, and I cannot be defeated.
I have danced with discouragement, living each day as if today were the day and finding denial after denial after denial all day long and hearing the word no so much that, even though it never ceased to surprise me, I became dulled by it as a sword striking stone. And each night it became dark outside and in, and I realized it was not the lack of hope that kills a man, but hope itself. Hope and disappointment, repeated, unexpected failure, over and over again, tearing at the heart of who I was, of what I thought I could accomplish, and each night I would pray to whatever god might be listening that I might wake up in the morning without hope and give up on my dreams. And the next morning I would wake up with renewed hope. Hope beyond hope. More hope than the day before, believing THIS would be the day and I would charge into battle to be destroyed and demoralized just as I was the day before and this cycle continued for months, every day. Every day. I was dying. And hungry. And one day I was dealt a blow bigger than any of the other days before it, one so big I didn't know if I could recover. But that weekend I competed in a 24-hour mountain bike race at Roman Nose State Park in Watonga Oklahoma, and I was a good mountain bike racer in those days. But half-way through the race, in the darkness and approaching storm and cactus and sleep-deprivation and accompanied misery, I quit. I DNF'd. I dropped out of the race. And when I drove home, I wondered what happened to me.
I never DNF.
I never quit.
And I thought of all the obstacles and the difficulties and the problems in my life and the fact that my friend Jason dropped out before me, and that just shows that it was a hard race. And I drove home and went to bed, troubled. But the next morning I arose and went behind the house to a 1/4 mile dirt singletrack and started running. And I ran around that track, thinking, around and around thinking, 60 times around that track I ran, and I wondered what happened the day before, what would happen to me while running around that 1/4 mile dirt track, and then the answer came to me.
I DNF'd because I decided to quit.
And I could keep running around that 1/4 mile dirt track as long as I wanted, until I decided to quit.
Because I learned a very important lesson that day. That I cannot be defeated. No matter what happens to me, what obstacles come my way or problems arise or no matter how I feel or who wants me to stop, I stop when I decide to stop. Quitting is ALWAYS my decision. And the rest of the world can kiss my ass. I cannot fail because I am always in control of the outcome, whether I keep trying or I decide to stop. All else is a matter of time and time is irrelevant to a patient man.
And so I kept going, and I didn't give up and eventually it worked out because I didn't give up.
No one can compete with my resilience and persistence. These are my decisions, and mine only.
And the coffee came back to me.
And fruits from my journeys into the hills and mountainsides. Our coffee has come, and I declare it ridiculous. Delicious. Coffee should not be this good. But I dreamt of it and I prepared for it and I recognized it and I grasped it by the very essence, our spirits at once recognizing one another and intertwining forever. Forever. She is mine. Forever.
But you can taste my coffee.
The coffees of the holiday season are the sickest selection we have ever had. There are three (3). Nekisse is back, and you know how I feel about that, her natural Sidamo berry flavored, juicy, fantastic. Kemgin, another Ninety Plus offering from Nekempte Ethiopia... this is THE coffee. I have written about her before. If you don't get this one, I think you are making a huge mistake. But who am I? I am in love with Kemgin. The third is another natural from Colombia. I found her on the cupping table last week in the mountains on a white horse by my house in the stand of trees overlooking my reading tree. This is one of the best naturals I've had, sweet and clean, also not to be missed. Be prepared. We'll be selling these coffees in metal quart cans. You won't find better coffees. But who am I? I am no one.
This holiday season I hope you get what you wish for and it turns out to be what you want.
Never, never, never, never give up.