Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tea It Up

It doesn’t seem to matter where it is I’m going or what I’m doing but I’m almost always running late. Time often feels like a menacing burden. There’s the sensation that something’s chasing me, lurking just out of sight but gaining. I have no way of knowing what it is – I just know I better hurry. ‘Hurry’ might be the theme for the way of life that I see all around me and the one that I am immersed in. There cannot possibly be that many critically important things that so many frantic people have to attend to so urgently, all the time.

Nonetheless, time presses down relentlessly on all of us and you see it everywhere. There is a good bit of historical evidence that our ancestors enjoyed much more leisure time than we do. Leisure is not valued in our culture, at least not beyond its function of allowing us to be useful participants in the consumerist lifestyle. It’s defined for us as time to be spent buying some product that will allow us to fully relax and truly be ourselves. That so much consumption results in the necessity of most of our time being spent in the pursuit of money, thereby depriving us of true leisure, doesn’t get discussed nearly enough.

Being so pressed for time results in a high premium being placed on the concept of convenience. Fortunes are made catering to our perceived and/or actual need for convenience. What’s overlooked is the high price - in terms of dollars, quality, health, and authentic experience – that is paid for the sake of convenience. Most of the good things in life are not convenient. They take time and attention. There’s a reason that patience is classified as a virtue.

Anyway, as an act of rebellion against all of this I have decided to forego all of my worldly possessions and relocate to a cave in New Mexico where I will adopt the lifestyle of humans that lived there 5,000 years ago. Just kidding. But what I will do is drink tea. I mean real, time consuming, painfully inconvenient tea. Maybe I should phrase it more esoterically: I will partake of the ancient ritual of Tea.

The art of taking tea has a grand history from Eastern culture to Western culture that spans the ages. Granted it’s become a huge industry, another exploit of commercialism, but that’s a trapping that can scarcely be escaped. The act of making and enjoying a genuine cup of tea requires slowing down and engaging in something simple, subtle, and inexpensive.

For my tiny act of rebellion tea time will be early morning, before work, the time when I’m naturally feeling the most rushed. Water will be boiled via stovetop, not microwaved, and allowed to descend to its prime temperature for that particular tea. For my purposes I’ll be using mostly varieties of green, loose-leaf tea that require water just below the boiling point. My first few samples have been: “Sky Between The Branches” green tea, “China Dragonwell” green tea, Wu Yi Oolong tea, and a Roasted Green Tea Mint that is my favorite so far.

My tea ritual will follow my morning round of Sun Salutations and will be a slow, deliberate, mindful act that will be a kind of thumbing of the nose at the hurried, frantic conditions that tend to transpire at that time each morning. And though it falls short of taking up residence in a Himalayan cave with naught but a loin cloth and a candle, it’s a beautifully inconvenient start.


Anonymous said...

Archibald Alexander Leach, so my grandmother used to tell me, was always late; he suffered from the psychological problem of being 'chronically late'. Why she would mention this is because my brother was always 'late' for whatever. To this day (65 years on) he is still the same and it annoys everybody. May be of interest.
A nice cup of tea sounds just great but take care tea can be addictive.

Ben There said...

Hi Tony!

I've heard it said that chronically late people have control issues. I'm sure there's some truth to that but honestly I just lose track of time. There might be a hereditary component it too. I'm not the only one in my family.

The tea thing...Not to worry - I can quit anytime. (heh)

Thanks for stopping by.