Coffee is an antidepressant. Antidepressants help us lie to ourselves about reality. They help us avoid emotions and sensations we’d prefer not to feel.
Coffee helps give us appealing false impressions. It gifts a feeling of energy and alertness when we’re flat. It lifts the spirits and can bring happiness where otherwise there might be tedium, overwhelm, emptiness or uncertainty.
Coffee helps make life seem better than it is. It’s a drug that assists us to carry on without properly taking stock of our situation. It helps us cheat ourselves from knowing our inner truth.
There are two things that make for great retirement: vibrant health and no regrets. Coffee can easily mess with both.
In Chinese medicine there is a great appreciation for the unseen life force called chi. There’s particular respect for what’s known as prenatal chi, which accounts for our constitution, our strength and vitality and determines our lifespan. Factors that contribute to the state of our prenatal chi include the genes we inherit and the physical and emotional environment of our gestational experience. The more of this chi we have, the stronger our constitution and the healthier we tend to be. As distinct from the chi that we can cultivate through life via a healthy diet and lifestyle, our prenatal chi is fixed at birth and is finite in nature. Some people have more, some less, but however much we begin with, it cannot be replenished, only conserved.
The more it’s conserved, the greater one’s vitality and wellbeing into old age. The secret to conservation is a lot about living the middle path, which obviously means tempering inclinations towards excesses or extremes. Our approach to food, work, exercise and sex can all either add or subtract from our stores of chi.
Coffee isn’t really supportive of the middle path. It revs our engine and speeds us up. It pushes us to persist with work and pick up the pace when the body is calling for a break. It helps us to ignore and deny the need for stillness and quiet. In commanding action when the energy isn’t there to provide for it, the body is forced to draw upon our finite store of prenatal chi. It eats away at a precious and irreplaceable resource. Overdrawing will catch up with us eventually. It’s like playing a game of Jenga and expecting to keep removing blocks to build higher forever. At some stage, it’s going to tumble down.
The symptoms of this precious chi running low correlate with the signs of ageing: poor eyesight, loss of hearing, grey hair, wearing of the teeth, joint degeneration and loss of memory and purpose. We accept these symptoms as a normal part of old age but they’re not natural. Very common for sure, but natural or necessary. They’re the result of an unbalanced life and the subsequent depletion of the body and soul. It is actually quite possible to die in old age and be in good health.
Remove coffee from the equation and a lot of things become clearer. We won’t be so easily able to override the truth of our nature – our real feelings and our real level of enthusiasm for what we’re doing with our lives each day. The murmurings of the heart become more audible when the push of caffeine overdrive is removed. Paying attention to the compass of the heart and soul is critical for ensuring the pursuit of the things that will truly bring contentment and satisfaction in older age.
Having no regrets is an important feature of a happy life at any age. Throwing ourselves into the things we truly love is a great way to guard against regret. So it’s important to be sure that we’re prioritising and putting energy into the direction of our heart’s desire.
Often times our rational mind can hijack that process and then coffee becomes an accomplice to insist upon allegiance from the body to carry out it’s plan. When we go off course in life, coffee can continue us much further down that road more quickly. (Which can make it harder to find the way back when we realise).
Using coffee as a tool to drive the agenda of the mind and override the callings of the heart long term, is an approach that doesn’t bode well for happily reflecting on life when retirement rolls around. If there’s no energy to go to work then something is amiss. The right job should feel invigorating. Better to face that reality sooner rather than later and allow the possibility for a whole new trajectory to be explored.
How many coffees do you drink each day? Could that number be a reflection of how far you’ve deviated from a vocation aligned with your soul’s calling? Could it be a reflection of choosing the wrong priorities?
If you need coffee for a kick start in the morning perhaps it’s worth paying closer attention to leveraging other fuel generating habits like diet, exercise and sleep.
Do you rely on coffee for focus and clarity? If you’re having to medicate your brain it’s very likely that your mind is overworked and your life is out of balance. Natural sharpness of the mind will be much more deeply nourished by engaging with creativity, playfulness, idle daydreams and connection with the body and the natural world.
Coffee can hasten our demise – both physically and emotionally. Is it time to switch allegiance to something more sustaining?