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Through a Coffee-Cupped Lens
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Art liked coffee. That he 'loved' coffee was closer to the truth, even 'lusted after', but those words didn’t suit his under-exaggerated style of speaking. He liked it.
Of course, complete honesty would require him to say he 'was addicted to' coffee, but it was that kind of reality he drank coffee to ignore. To speak of addiction seemed somehow clinical, not really reflecting the relationship he had cultivated with the cup. He preferred to say he looked at the world through a coffee-cupped lens.
The effects of his coffee drinking went in a discernable cycle. First of all, he would receive a rush. This was not the sort of rush that made one do crazy things, but a surge of confidence and alertness. This, of course, is coffee all over. He had been told – rightly or wrongly – that caffeine enabled the electricity in the brain to make faster connections. Myth or not, it certainly seemed to give him a certain creative edge. Having a job that involved presenting information in front of a group of people, he found that this stage of the coffee effect gave him more energy and more ideas and so a better result from his work.
Unfortunately, this was merely the honeymoon period. The amount of time it lasted depended on how much sleep he got – more sleep, longer honeymoon; less sleep, shorter honeymoon. And then the downhill run.
Art would soon begin to rely on the coffee kick in his life. This he tried not to do, but since coffee seemed to cause him to wake up tired in the morning, he needed something to keep him going or he would not be able to function at a normal level. So, instead of extending his abilities, coffee would begin to be what maintained them. But it was never enough. The tiredness soon outstripped the caffeine kick, he got lethargic at work and home, and everything suffered.
This period could last a month or longer. At one stage he is sure he existed in this state for over 2 years, drinking coffee after coffee, ever-tired, never fully alive. But, finally, something would happen that would cause him to think about taking a break from coffee and so end the cycle.
It could be the weekend crash. The time when he was free to pursue other activities was instead spent recuperating from the caffeine of the previous weeks or months. No new amounts of coffee or other less sophisticated caffeine drinks would alleviate the tiredness, the aching eyes, the fuzzy brain. In fact sometimes he felt that if he had any more of the stuff his body would revolt.
Alternatively, the end of the cycle could be signalled by an incredibly nasty headache, or his gums could start to hurt (if he had a lot of sugar with the coffee – this varied), or he realised his teeth were changing colour.
So, Art would stop and swear of the stuff for a day or two. His life improved, his success his own. What’s more, his feelings were his own, no longer dictated by what he swallowed.
And then, when all was well, he could start the cycle again.
Interestingly, instant coffee produced much sharper results than any other. Art was not such a snob that he would turn up his nose at what many considered an inferior product. But the results indicated that perhaps he should have been. Not only did instant coffee clear his mind quicker, it also seemed to exacerbate emotional sensitivity, so that other people’s innocent remarks that he would normally take no notice of suddenly assumed great importance and contained underlying negative feelings toward him. It was during these times that conspiracy theories were at their most attractive. Did man really go to the moon?
Just thinking about these things caused Art to consider a huge question: Should he give up coffee altogether? Not just for a couple of days, not just for a while, but…permanently.
There were the questionable sources of caffeine – slave labour producing pleasure in a cup for Western drinkers. But Art bought coffee from places he knew did not employ those practices. It was more the effects it had on him personally. And how did he know what long-term problems might rear their heads in later years. Did he really want to take that risk?
Art sighed and looked up at the clock. See what happened when he missed his morning cuppa? He had things to do. Perhaps just a quick coffee before he had to go.
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