I’m off coffee again. I used to drink it like a maniac, but these days I go through phases where I drink a cup or 2 a day and then go off it for a few days. I usually get a headache on the second day off coffee — it used to be my Sunday headache because I drank it every day Monday to Friday but didn’t have any on Saturday. I have heard various things about it being bad for you, good for you, and that it adds to your “fire” or “yang” energy. Either way, I’ve pretty much decided I am going to stay away from the cheap stuff (especially instant) but enjoy a nice, hand-ground cup whenever I feel like it.
And what is hand-ground coffee, you ask? It’s what you do when you have some really great beans you want to brew but you don’t have a grinder — you grind it by hand in a cast-iron frying pan. With a rock, preferably. 🙂 This is what my awesome roommate and I did in Wrigley when I was there. It was, hands down, the best coffee ever! (The beans were Kicking Horse Coffee.)
A little over a week ago, I went to visit this roommate of mine, and he offered me a cup of tea. It was evening, so we weren’t going to get into coffee. I chose a nice black tea with loose leaves and put a few into my cup. I hadn’t had any coffee or black tea for about a week or so, and let me tell you what the first sip of caffeine felt like! It went straight to the frontal lobe of my brain — I’m not joking — and I could feel it doing something there. It was so obvious and so strange!
This got me thinking — are there any other times I have done this — gone off something and noticed a big effect when I started up again? One time, it was television.
I was totally off television for a couple of years, only watching tiny bits in restaurants and at friends’ places. Now, I’m still “off television” in principle, but my landlord likes to watch it sometimes, and I seem to find myself eating with him in front of the TV occasionally, or visiting with him in the living room with the TV on. Let me tell you how it affected me!
The first time I sat in front of it and actually watched some, I felt like someone was trying to program my brain. I felt like I was being manipulated and sold certain messages. I also felt like I was being “talked down to,” like I was stupid or at the very least, slow. It was so clear to me, it was startling. I remember turning to my landlord while the news was on and saying “do people actually believe this? Do they think this is all there is to this issue?” He had a sort of numb look on his face, but then he agreed that there was more to it. I don’t even remember what story was on the news. I felt a little better watching football — at least the message was straightforward and I didn’t feel manipulated.
I was off the internet (almost completely) for about a month this year too, not by choice. There were major delays in getting the phone and internet hooked up (read the story here), and when I went back online, I noticed something then, too. I felt a slight stress come back — stress to check my emails regularly and respond, to check facebook, to be reachable, and of course, to get all sorts of blogging and other things done on my various websites. Life had been so simple before…
I have realized something from this experience: Caffeine, TV and the internet are not inherently bad, but if I want to know how they effect me, the best way to do that is to go off for a while and then try a sample again. By paying attention while trying that sample, I can learn a lot about myself and how I react to whatever I had cut out. Then, I can decide if I want that affect on my life all the time, or if I want to stay “off.” So, for example, if you think TV is totally harmless, I challenge you to go off TV for a couple of weeks and then watch something again. How does it make you feel? Do you feel like I did? I am curious if you’ll have the same experience. Perhaps more than a couple of weeks is needed — let me know what your experience is.
I also think that things like TV and internet and coffee complicate our lives. We arrange our schedules around when certain shows are on, we use up large amounts of time on the internet and we change our travel route based on the drive-thru coffee shops along the way. When you eliminate these things, it is simpler, but then again, didn’t I recently discover it’s not about having a simpler life? Aaah well, I slipped back into an old pattern there! 🙂