11 January 2011

The Tea Cure

There are so many reasons not to do something.

But no matter what the something is, the inaction always seems to stem from perfectionism or laziness. The first is a fear of not doing something well; the second is a fear of trying at all. I suspect everyone has both qualities- the more accomplished among us just have managed to mentally or emotionally outmaneuver these tendencies.

Leaving laziness aside (and letting it burrow back to its natural home under the covers), I'll readily admit to the paralysis of perfectionism. The worst part about a desire to excel is that you're left with an increasingly narrow focus and paradoxically, less to perfect.

Sitting here at 6:30 on a Tuesday morning, a few things come to mind that have escaped this often unproductive urge: throwing the javelin at track meets in junior high school (I don't think it ever went more than 35 feet, but I got to hurl a spear through the air), and playing bass in a punk band in college (I never practiced, and in fact, didn't even own an instrument, much to the frustration of my bandmates).

What strikes me now is that these were some of the few activities I've unabashedly enjoyed. You've experienced them at some point- the thing itself absorbs and consumes you; any sense of time beyond the immediate moment ceases to exist.

And it probably means I'm getting old, but making tea has joined the list. It is a decidedly more contemplative activity than those in my past, but it's still one that I've come to enjoy knowing that I don't know it all. I'm not going to make a perfect cup every time, and I never will. The nuances of each brew- and even the unpredictable taste of a slightly over- or under-brewed tea- is what I savor.

Regardless of the cause, inaction can be cured. Start with a tea so incredible (or expensive) that you're almost afraid to brew it, like the Red Fujian above that I brought some home to drink over the holidays. You don't need a lot- a single cup will show how just engaging in the act and letting go of the outcome can inspire.

Repeat as necessary.


Anonymous said...

You certainly inspired me! Beautifully written

Anonymous said...

You certainly inspired me! Beautifully written

Cha sen said...

You've encapsulated the practice of mindfulness wonderfully. Isn't great that making tea, drinking tea are so conducive to living in the here and now?

avra romanowitz said...

no one but you, my dear, can so aptly incorporate javelin, punk, the perfect brew and utter enjoyment into such a delightful post.

ana dane said...

that means more coming from a certain B52s-loving shotput thrower.

kate said...

Just found your blog through tastespotting. Love it. Love tea. Love this post.