I’ve been thinking about decreasing my daily caffeine intake. Of course, as I write this I’m finishing my morning cuppa, which is really the entire contents of a 4-cup Mr. Coffee. That’s how much coffee I drink, most days.
Yesterday I got really cold and wet sitting on the shore of Kenai Lake in the rain, watching my partner test-paddle sea kayaks. I was still cold when we got home (about an hour’s drive), so I had another “cuppa.” Caffeinated. At 6:00 p.m.
Some days I intentionally self-medicate, if I’ve got a lot to get done, and no motivation to get started. On days like that, I’ll make a pot of coffee mid-afternoon, and drink most of it.
But I’ve been reflecting lately about the phobias in my life. I’m afraid of bears, as I’ve written about here. I’m pretty twitchy about driving in conditions other than blue skies, sunshine, and straight roads. I learned during our recent sea kayaking lessons that I’ve got a pretty serious water-related phobia. I suspect that caffeine gives each of these fears an extra frantic edge.
I went decaf years ago, while I was in seminary. I drank exclusively decaf for at least six or seven years, until I decided to go back to caffeine, hoping it would help me focus. Then we moved to Alaska, home to really, really fine coffee. I keep telling myself that I need caffeine if I’m going to live in the land of endless winter, midnight sun and noon darkness.*
But if I listen to the still, small voice–the one waiting patiently beyond the caffeinated chatterbox–I remember the pictures I’ve seen of webs created by spiders under the influence of caffeine. And I have to admit that the pictures do bear a striking resemblance to what it feels like when the java is rushing through my veins.
I’ve also started to think about what caffeine means for ministry. Think about it. If I have my “cuppa” for breakfast–say at about 7:00 a.m., and if caffeine reaches its peak in about four hours, I’m high as a kite at about 11:00 a.m. What happens at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings?
And if you add to that the buzz I get from conversation with interesting people, what’s the likelihood that I’ll be anything resembling calm, cool and collected during the most important hours of the week?
Creative? Hell, yeah. Centered? No way. Able to be a non-anxious presence when conflict arises? Not a chance.
*No, it’s not really dark at noon in Girdwood. Just feels like that sometimes.