Springlike weather was forecast for last Tuesday, it was probably the last semi-warm day until April. With that in mind I rode my motorcycle to the morning class I teach in Shelburne, my plan was to take a nice ride to Burlington afterward. When class ended I headed up Route 7 toward Burlington. The sun felt so great that I couldn’t help myself
and I kept riding and riding and riding…soon I found myself in Eden, Vermont. Which, if you aren’t familiar with Eden, really is like Eden, and also a couple hours north of Burlington. I decided to head back toward Burlington and on the way found myself at the Loving Cup Cafe in Johnson, Vermont.
I parked my bike right in front, got a drink and sat on the porch. I was really feeling proud of myself, and had the subtle intention that maybe someone at the cafe would connect the cool bike with the cool guy sitting on the porch, and from this somehow I’d profit from this strangers thoughts (yes..this is embarrassing). Soon, I hit the jackpot. A couple of young kids rode up on their BMX bicycles and sat on the porch at the table next to me.
Instantly I started making up stories about them in my mind. How they liked their little bicycles but I’m sure they would much rather have a fancy motorcycle like mine. And about how they viewed me as some cool guy riding his cool motorcycle. Basically creating scenarios in my mind in order to somehow build myself up.
Finally when it was time for me to head out, I was putting on by coat and standing by my bike and the kids came off the porch and came over to talk to me. I was thinking they’d ask about my riding experience, how many miles I put in, what a cool jacket I had. Instead, the older kid who was probably around 18, said, “How many CCs is that?”
“Cool. My dad rides a lot. He has a bunch of Harleys.”
(This isn’t going as I thought it would.)
“Well, that’s cool.”
“Yup, I’ve been riding since I was 4. I’ve won a bunch of regional dirt bike races.”
(I’m such an idiot.)
“Good for you.”
“This is my little brother. He’s been riding since he was 3. He’s 12 now and just won the Northeast dirt bike championships.”
(I’m a complete idiot.)
“Wow…really good for you guys. That’s actually pretty awesome.”
“See you around mister.”
(I guess I’m the lucky one that got to talk to you.)
“Take care you guys.”…as I rode off completely humbled.
Yup, there are a number of lessons here, I admit it. The one I took away is about how negative thoughts and judgements aren’t the best, and really don’t serve anyone or anything.
It brings to mind one of the Yoga Sutras for Patanjali, Chapter 2, Sutra 33: “When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite positive ones should be thought of.”
I realized in retrospect that I had started down this somewhat silly, negative thought process about these kids I knew nothing about, as a way to make me feel somehow better about myself and my life. Even though it seems like it can be a good idea, nothing good can come of it. The real good came when the kids talked to me and were open about who they were. They didn’t seem to have any judgement of me at all – they just figured I ride, so do they. Cool kids.
So, I’ve been practicing. It’s actually been amazing how often I catch myself going down a path of a negative thought…and…more importantly, how empowering it is to catch myself and turn it around. It feels great! So, try it. Let me know how it goes. From my experience, I guarantee it’s more beneficial than the alternative.
I make my wife coffee every morning. I don’t drink much coffee myself, so making coffee for her is my small contribution to our happy relationship…so far it’s working! The other day I was making her my perfect cup of coffee (instructions below). I have an old school method of making coffee with just hot water poured through a paper filter. If you’ve ever used this method, you know you need to keep pouring water into the filter, and there’s a danger of overfilling the mug. For me, since I can have a hard time keeping my attention on something like that, the coffee can often overflow out on the counter, which is a bummer.
Well, in making coffee the other day I thought, “If I fill the cup completely full of coffee there isn’t any room for coffee creamer!” Yes…I had the explanation point in my mind. Why I thought this was such a great “discovery” was because I wasn’t really thinking about it in terms of coffee, I was thinking about in terms of life. Sometimes it’s easy to think that the goal of life is to fill your cup completely to the top. There is a lot of reinforcement of that idea everywhere we look, and people that are extremely busy are the one’s that seem to be held up on a pedestal as a “success”.
The thing I see in myself when I am too busy, or other people I talk to who have too much to do, is stress. Instead of feeling happy to have our cups full, it can be difficult to relax, breath, enjoy life.
The more I practice yoga and learn about yoga philosophy, the more I understand that life truly is about being happy. We are hear to savor what is around us and inside of us. Life is amazing and we are supposed to enjoy it. That’s the goal. We are alive to be happy, and our happiness spreads happiness. And, that happiness is always inside of us, we just need to let there be room in our cup for our light (coffee creamer!) to come to the surface. But, if we fill our cup completely full there’s no room for the cream. There’s no space or time for the joy that is living, because we are too busy living it.
So, let yourself be ok about filling your cup shy of the rim. With that extra space that’s left, allow your own inner joy, happiness, creamer to come to the surface, and take a long, slow, delicious sip of life.
Making A Great Cup of Coffee
1. Put paper cone filter in a cone holder (I use Melitta #2 Natural Brown filter and Melitta cone holder)
2. Put the cone holder/filter on top of your cup (I use a 20 oz, ceramic cup)
3. Grind 20cc of beans
• I have a 20cc plastic scoop that was originally a protein powder scoop…works great!
• If you under grind, the coffee ends up to be under extracted and weak, if you over grind, the coffee can be bitter. Figure out what works for you.
4. Boil Water
5. Immediately after boiling, pour water into the empty filter, getting the whole filter wet. This also gets hot water in the cup. Hold the filter as you swirl the hot water in the cup (warming the cup), and then dump out the water.
6. Put the ground beans into the wet filter.
7. Now for the bloom – the most important part! Pour just enough hot water onto the beans so they are all wet. Using a circular motion starting from the outside of the coffee to the middle works well.
8. Let sit for 30 seconds.
9. Continuously pour water over the coffee beans, checking regularly so you don’t overfill.
10. Leave room for cream.
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