I am sitting in a Starbucks right now, ostensibly preparing for my next class, but in reality I am distracted by the wonderful, luring aroma of espresso. Its scent lingers on my clothes and I can almost taste it. It is my Siren calling for me, tempting me with promises of pleasure and joy.
I am drinking tea. And I’m clearly not that psyched about it.
Before I totally martyr myself, I should probably mention that I gave up espresso-based drinks for Lent and cut down on relgular coffee, but I didn’t give up caffeine altogether (that would be a kamikaze mission for me; I tried it once a few years ago and within two days, my boss politely wondered if I might think of something else to give up since my productivity had taken a noticeable nosedive and my headaches were blinding). But since I do waste a sizable amount of money on sugar-free, nonfat latte concoctions at least six days a week and haven’t attempted to teach a late class without an espresso infusion in three years, it is something.
I’ve already acknowledged the absolutely disgusting amount of caffeine I drink in previous posts—a pot of coffee on my own in the morning, and the life-saving latte in the afternoon, at least. At this point, I’m beginning to see it as more than just a conversation piece (you think that’s gross? Listen to how much coffee I drink!) and as some sort of personal failing—how in hell did I get to this point? And to top it all off, it doesn’t even help. I’m still brain-foggy and slow-tongued by late afternoon.
Combined with my other Lenten resolutions, I hope the caffeine-cutback makes me less disgusted with myself. I’ve also cut out eating in between meals (my equally night-owl husband and I have been known revert to college behavior and run out to 7-Eleven to buy frozen yogurt at midnight or throw a bag of popcorn in the microwave in time to watch the Daily Show, not really the best way to eat).
Over the past few years, though, I’ve started to see the merit in not just giving things up for Lent but in making changes/improvements and adding positive behaviors to my life. My theme for this Lent is balance, not just in terms of maintaining health conditions (that’s a given) but in terms of setting aside time to reflect and also in terms of clearing my mind of negative or hurtful things: not getting so buried in student papers and revisions on Sundays that I don’t make it to church; not backing out of weekend plans with friends or my husband because I’d rather use those five four hours for work; not getting bogged down by passive-aggressive anger when calm confrontation would cause much less pain, etc.
So that’s where I stand. As my good friend said yesterday, you can do things for Lent for faith-based reasons or because you like the personal challenge (I subscribe to both), but either way, it is a chance to let go of some of the obsessions, indulgences, and pettiness that we’re better off without.
So here’s to less caffeine, less workaholic tendencies, more introspection and reflection, and more mature ways of handling problems. (But I’m not going to lie, I’m already salivating for my Easter Sunday sugar-free, nonfat cinnamon dulce latte!)