In an effort to cut back on the amount of caffeine I drink I’ve recently cut out my morning cup of coffee. Although for some folks this is a cardinal sin (or just plain impossible) I’ve done this successfully for periods of time before. My morning “cups” of coffee are more like half liters (you should see the size of my travel mug). I usually have one brewing my 6:30, with the first gulps being swallowed by 6:45, with the whole thing finished by 7:30. With another “cup” around 1pm, brewed with a friend at work named J.
I’ve found that the morning cup isn’t really necessary for keeping me awake and the idea that I’m addicted to caffeine just rubs me wrong, so I’ve cut it out. All has been well until a recent conversation with a co-worker. Here’s my reenactment of our lunchtime conversation:
“You’re cutting back on coffee?” Her eyebrows arched high as she reached for her lunch in the breakroom fridge. “Why would you do that?”
I shrugged. “Just trying to be more healthy.” I put a plate of leftovers in the microwave and started nuking it.
“So, do you feel like you have more energy? Are you not as tired at night? Or are you sleeping better? What’s changed?”
She caught me off guard. I had no answers for her. It occurred to me then that I didn’t feel differently at all despite the fact that I hadn’t had my morning cup for a few weeks now. I tried to think of something to say.
“Because if it hasn’t changed anything, why are you doing it?” She said with a smile that seemed to communicate this is obvious, Andrew. “If you don’t have something you can measure, then what’s the point in giving it up?”
I wasn’t sure what to say, so I shrugged again. She left.
One of the strongest threads in my friendship with J is our mutual love for excellent coffee. We work together and have other things in common too, but our daily brew is the real glue for the two of us. One the things I like best about him is that he looks at the world in a different light than the average person. He’s not concerned with trends or pop culture, he’s a people person, and even though he’s a few years younger than me I often feel like he’s wiser than his age. He’s spent some extended time in Africa doing missions work and always seems to have a unique take on things. He’s also encouraged my decision to cut back on caffeine. I told him about the conversation.
Back to the break room, later that same day:
“She’s right, though.” I said, stewing. “If I don’t have anything I can measure, then what’s the point in giving it up?” I sipped my afternoon cup greedily and waited for his response.
“That’s a very western thing to say,” he said quickly.
“If you don’t have anything you can measure, what’s the point in giving it up? That’s a very western approach to doing anything.” He gazed at me and sipped his own coffee. “It implies that a measurable result is the only reason worth doing anything. That if you don’t have something you can track, you won’t know if you’re successful, therefore it shouldn’t be done.”
A look of distaste clouded his eyes and I doubted it was the java.
“That’s modern. And western.” He said. “I wouldn’t worry about it. Sometimes things are worth doing just because of the discipline required to do them.”