There’s just something special about coffee. Coffee has become a status symbol in America: where you buy your coffee, how you drink your coffee, how often you drink your coffee… do you even enjoy coffee? The last one is rarely ever answered truthfully, you have to decide to enjoy coffee before you can enjoy coffee, because the first time any of us took a drink of coffee we thought to ourselves “This tastes like burnt, bird shit,” and that first taste of coffee is always the truest. Very few of us truly like black coffee the first time we taste it, we must water it down, sugar it up and most of all get positive feedback from our peers. We must reap the social benefits of coffee. Then after awhile we begin to sincerely enjoy it. A cup in the morning to start the day, maybe a shot in the mid-afternoon, every once in awhile we may have a couple cups in the morning, but only when we suffer from a hangover of some sort, only then do we up the regular morning dose. Why not? It’s not hurting anything, it may be an addiction but at least it’s not an addiction to tobacco or alcohol or God forbid marijuana. Once you sincerely begin to enjoy the un-sweetened un-creamed un-inhibited taste of coffee… well, you’re screwed.
This carries on for a while, the love of coffee, the desire for a little bit of that brewed enjoyment. However, before we notice, it becomes more than just enjoyment, it becomes day maker or day breaker, our daily dose of ecstasy. We get headaches if we don’t have it. We can’t live without it. What is it in the bitterness that we find so sweet? Why do we find its blackness so comforting? Is it the kick of energy? Or the automatic connection it gives us with the majority of the population? Or is it the sugar and cream we add to it? Probably. Everyone likes sweet stuff. But eventually the sweetness just doesn’t cut it. We need it straight, we need the bitter strength of black coffee to reach an itch that the other stuff just doesn’t. Once we get that addiction, there’s no turning back. Because coffee isn’t so different from anything else in this life, take sin for an example. To be honest, I hate the word “sin.” But whether we call it sin, or the violation of moral code, or working in opposition of universal law, it remains the same in nature. It has many different forms, and is known by many different names, but in essence, it is like coffee. We start out small, thinking harmless thoughts about people we do not know, maybe some small gestures of disrespect here and there. Then we begin blatantly discouraging people that we don’t know. Why not? It makes us feel good about ourselves. But after a while we get so used to calling out the bad in strangers, that we start unconsciously doing the same to those closest to us, we don’t even realize it at first. Then we do realize it. We just don’t care, because it reaches an itch we never knew we had. But there are different tastes of sin, just like coffee, there are expensive tastes, cheap tastes, those that like it strong, others weak, how you sin, where you sin, how much money you spend when you sin, who you sin with. It’s a status symbol. It’s like coffee. “An acquired taste,” they say, however, they don’t tell us that once you do acquire a taste for coffee, it’s near impossible to un-acquire it. Once you sincerely begin to enjoy the bitterness of un-fettered, un-censored, un-feeling sin… well, you’re screwed.
So we go on sinning, we go on scratching that itch. We go on feeding that addiction. Just one more shot of that untamed black espresso, one more sip, one more time. But after awhile we begin to realize that it’s not just one more time, we see the cold hard truth that once more just won’t cut it. We all reach that point, when we look at the coffee, the sin, the filth, all that dirty pleasure, and we stop viewing it as something we do and begin to look at it as something we are. Screw status symbol, that’s my fucking name badge. More coffee. Another girl. One more time? Yeah right, Bro. Why would I fight who I am? We keep going, and we get good, we become the best coffee drinking badass with a girl on each arm to ever do the same exact thing as everybody else. But don’t judge. It’s who I am. At least I don’t try to hide my animal nature under 7 thick coats of religious paint. Those guys are the ones with the problem. They need to face reality! More coffee. Another car. Something else to numb us from ourselves.
But then, we feel something. Or more appropriately we feel the absence of something, even more accurately the absence of everything. Sure, there’s still the money, I’ve still got my top 50 broski’s on speed-dial, if only you had seen that chick I brought home last night, and you should just taste this coffee. But when you’re sitting in your apartment, after last night’s party and before tonight’s poker game, all the distractions are gone and even that top-of-the-line coffee machine won’t brew right. When it’s just you trying to pass the time with yourself, it feels like you’re trying to talk to an old friend whom you’ve wounded beyond words. No matter what you say to the mirror, the person staring back just won’t have any of it. You realize that your emotions are on complete lockdown, total solitary confinement inside that heart that you’ve ignored and kept inside that chest that you’ve covered up with a 3,000 dollar suit in hopes that people don’t realize just how dead you are inside it… but it’s ok, the espresso machine is working again, thank God.
On to the next thing, more coffee, more cologne, maybe it will mask that reeking scent of nothingness that seeps out from your well-groomed skin. The parties continue, no one seems to notice that you’re going through an existential crisis, which at first you’re grateful for. But then curiosity drives you to do some sort of social experiment, to figure out who your real friends are. So after a week of avoiding the party scene, you count up all the friends from all your different social circles that asked you where you had been and if everything was ok. The grand total: zero. For some reason this coffee doesn’t taste so good. In fact it tastes bitter. Damn it, what happened to that sugar? I know it was laying around here somewhere. But the coffee isn’t the only thing that tastes bitter. You start to see every person you ever insulted, to pad your ego, line up in your mind, their hopelessness tastes bitter in your mouth. Every person you manipulated for your own personal gain. You start to see the unsung tears of all the girls you ever slept with, their hearts broken, stepped on, pissed on. Some of them were like that when you found them. Others weren’t. But they were all like that when you left them. Then, for the first time in a long time, you feel something that reaches beyond the physical. Pain. You feel the pain that you ignored for so long, the pain that people caused you, the pain you caused them, and the pain you caused yourself for the cause of causing them pain. Then, you show the ultimate sign of weakness, the number one indicator that you are less than a man. You cry. The tears that you held back until you no longer felt them come streaming down your stone face and paint pictures of lost love, hurt and confusion on your 3,000 dollar suit. But it doesn’t even matter, soon the tears melt together with other strange fluids dripping from your nose, but the most hideous thing in this ordeal are the noises that seem to be coming from your mouth. If your friends saw you now, they would laugh, but you don’t care, because you’ve faced the agonizing truth that they don’t care either. But you can’t blame them, you’ve been there. Hell, yesterday you were there. Yesterday you would have spat on anyone who was pussy enough to cry for emotional reasons. But for some reason, today is different.
The feeling that accompanies these sorts of situations is one completely unique unto itself, a combination of your drunkest stupor mixed with the hyper-awareness that only comes in the aftermath of trauma or in the middle of an adrenaline rush. In the moment it seems to last forever, but as soon as it’s over it feels distant as a dream that you’re not sure if you had or just imagined. But it’s usually in these, our most vulnerable moments that it happens, that He speaks. The first time is always dramatic, because conversations don’t usually have so much depth. Because when He speaks, you feel it first, you feel everything stop, like that moment right after you jump off a 45 foot bridge, before you get that falling sensation, you feel… nothing. But then, you feel everything. It starts with peace, you don’t know what’s going to happen, but your fine with anything that does, because you know that everything will be ok. Then you hear it, a voice so familiar it could almost be your own, but it tells you that you’re His own. You’ve heard it before, but only in your most tender dreams, in the deepest of sleeps. It doesn’t stop there. He doesn’t stop there. He goes on to tell you about every hurtful and happy experience you’ve lived, He tells you where He was, what He felt, and the truth about that situation. He tells you about every desire you ever had and will have, and how they came from His heart. He shows you every person you’ve loved well, even though you never thought you had loved anyone well. He takes you to the safest, happiest, most love-filled place you have ever seen in your life, and tells you it’s your new home. He looks you square in the eyes, wipes a tear off your soggy cheek and with His arms around you, His breath warm and sweet on your face, He says more clearly than anything you’ve ever heard in your life, “Dear, little boy, you are my trustworthy son, a true man in whom there is nothing false. You’ve always known you were destined for greatness, and I am going to show you more and more of what that looks like. This moment is for you, this year is for you, this century is for you. My dear little child, all of creation is for you. There is nothing I love more than your smile. I love hearing you speak. Don’t worry about the little things. To me, you are a sleeping child in my arms wanting nothing more than to hold onto me. This is the source of your strength. I could not ask you to do any more. I want to read you a story so you can tell others. I have given you something unique. I love you.”
Then it’s over. And it’s just you, sitting on the floor of your apartment, in a tear stained, 3,000 dollar suit. And even though you don’t hear Him or see Him, you can still feel Him. That warm, familiar feeling, that scratches an itch you never knew you had. The coffee just won’t cut it anymore. You’ve tasted something better. You’ve experienced His un-tainted, un-fettered, un-diluted love. And once you’ve felt that… well, you’re screwed.