As my Instagram feed can testify, I love me a good cup of coffee. I think that there is a great culture around coffee, such as the Swedish fika or the tendency for college students to get together in coffee shops. I have made friends with not just the staff at Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue’s TWIGS café, but also with its other regular patrons, making living in the area a lot more fun when I cross paths with them on a day-to-day basis.
But there is a dark side to coffee—and not just for those who drink their coffee black. It often feels like the dependence of so many on coffee is the unfortunate necessity of a society focused on productivity in terms of money-making and impressing others by having a certain personal look and certain material possessions.
In other words, there is no way we can do everything we are pressured to do in order to be considered “productive” or “successful” while getting enough rest.
I mention “rest” and not “sleep” because I don’t think the solution is to make sure to sleep eight or nine hours a night. To feel rested implies so much more than that. Of everything that it entails, I feel like there are two things that are routinely not taken care of.
The first is what goes on in our heads. Think about the number of thoughts that roll around in your mind all day. If you are like most people that I have questioned, in my usual non-scientific scientific poll, you always have a bunch of thoughts moving around, colliding, making you alternatively nervous, distracted, or even sick. How can anyone feel rested when their mind is so, well, restless?
The second is the care we put into the health of our souls. It takes time and effort to nurture one’s soul, time and effort that our restless minds and pressures selves often feel could be put to better use in the short-term so that in the long-term, we can take care of our souls. In other words, we think that if we put off praying, meditating, journaling, fasting, reading Sacred Writings, so that we can take care of other things, we will have a mind that is more rested and thus be able to take care of our souls better.
I don’t know about you, dear reader, but for me, that time never comes. If I don’t take care of my spiritual health today on account of trying to free up the time to do it later, I never take care of it.
And so, we drink coffee. The International Coffee Organization estimates that 152.2 million bags of coffee were consumed in the 2015 calendar year. That’s a mind-boggling 9.132 billion kilograms of the stuff. And that’s not counting tea, chocolate, sugar, and energy drinks—all the other stimulants that we use to keep going.
I can’t help but wonder what would happen to the global consumption of coffee if it were instead part of an overall healthy lifestyle rather than one of the fuels we use to keep going. What if we instead turned to a healthier fuel, something that filled our souls, hearts, and minds with an endless supply of “clean” energy?