One More Cup of Coffee

While reading one of the volumes in my not inconsiderable library of cycling books I was interested to learn that pro cyclists will often have a double espresso and pasta for breakfast.  I favour boiled eggs, toast and a nice cup of tea.

It’s not that I dislike coffee, I enjoy a cappuccino or a latte at any number of coffee shops in my role as a Peer Supporter meeting Peers to talk about recovery, inspire hope and learn how to maintain my own recovery.  Coffee shops act as a venue for my work.  Before you start thinking that I must be bouncing off the walls after a couple of meetings like this from too much caffeine, let me reassure you – I will order a coffee every time – but I may not necessarily drink it.

For me coffee shops serve as venues for connecting with Peers; helping people who are  socially isolated and find bustling places like coffee shops very challenging to spend any time in, to find their feet once more in the outside world.

And so it was for me once.

When I was first off work, and later, after I had given up work and was on Incapacity Benefit, I used to frequent a particular coffee shop.  It was a couple of miles from where I was living at the time.  I used to go there and sit, for what seemed like hours, with a cup of coffee, a newspaper or a book.

I want to say that it was a positive experience, that the coffee had a medicinal effect, that it perked me up.  I’ll come to that; but most of all what it did was fuel my ruminating mind.  Don’t mistake rumination for day dreaming. rumination is a hamster wheel of thoughts and feelings that turn and turn and turn, building up their own malign momentum.  This mind – work is the equivalent of digging holes and then filling them up again.  No insight, no eureka moments, can be found in rumination; it has a self – perpetuating energy that propels moods and thoughts and feelings making them fitter, stronger and more persistent than anything day dreaming can offer.  Looking back to that time (roughly 2001 – 5) I can recall how, despite all the doctors’ appointments, medication, all the counselling, the group psychotherapy what they were all up against was me stirring and stirring my  unhelpful (as I now like to call them) thoughts and feelings like so much sugar.  In short, developing my theories of despair.

The walls of this coffee shop were adorned with pictures of smiling, relaxed people sitting in the sunshine drinking coffee.  Over weeks, months, years I sat there drinking coffee (on my own) rarely smiling or relaxing.

But those  pictures spoke to me of engaging with the world – but in a lighter, happier way; intense, certainly, but engaging with the world outside and not the damp, dark, echo chambers that form the interior passageways of the soul.

There was another coffee shop that I used to visit quite regularly, too, when I was not feeling up to taking the trip into town.  This one was a short walk away.  I used to take my coffee upstairs, it was quiet up there, populated by a few smokers (that was allowed back then).  I remember one regular.  He was somewhat the worse for wear.  He used to pour alcohol miniatures into his morning coffee.  He did so quite openly – he could see me watching him.  We would acknowledge each other with a nod of the head before looking away.  Did I want to be like him?  No, but…..

There was no eureka moment, but gradually I began to see that I could unhook myself from that kind of future and return to another world, not so hopeless or habit – worn.

One More Cup of Coffee

Your breath is sweet

Your eyes are like two jewels in the sky

Your back is straight your hair is smooth

On the pillow where you lie

But I don’t sense affection

 No gratitude or love

Your loyalty is not to me

But to the stars above

One more cup of coffee for the road

One more cup of coffee ‘fore I go.

To the valley below.

Your daddy he’s an outlaw

And a wanderer by trade

He’ll teach you how to pick and choose

And how to throw the blade

He oversees his kingdom

So no stranger does intrude

His voice it trembles as he calls out

For another plate of food.

One more cup of coffee for the road

One more cup of coffee ‘fore I go.

To the valley below.

Your sister sees the future

Like your mama and yourself

You’ve never learned to read or write

There’s no books upon your shelf

And your pleasure knows no limits

Your voice is like a meadowlark

But your heart is like an ocean

Mysterious and dark.

One more cup of coffee for the road

 One more cup of coffee ‘fore I go.

To the valley below.

Bob Dylan (1941 – )

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One Response to One More Cup of Coffee

  1. Great post. I really enjoyed the poem as well. Cafes are also a regular fixture in my life. On the more challenging days, they give me that injection of socialisation, usually just exchanging a few words with the barrista. On brighter days I enjoy sharing with them my joys and triumphs. In a world where little is sacred, rituals like these get us through and help us face whatever lies ahead. All the best.


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