The longer one journeys through life the more ‘defining events’ we accumulate. Like the book of Job in the Bible reveals, our actions along with life’s events and outcomes, all have a way of refining and bringing out the essence of the person.
The humble coffee bean, on its journey from seed to cup, encounters a number of ‘defining’ moments or more precisely events. The fulfilment of the bean’s journey, its purpose if you will, is discovered in a cup of coffee.
I love Friar Tuck’s description of grain in Russell Crow’s version of Robin Hood. As they load grain on a wagon Tuck muses, “that from which some people make bread, but for which God had a higher purpose – beer.”
From the coffee roaster’s perspective, the bean exists for this ‘higher’ purpose, the creation of a most magical liquid gold. A drink that can enhance any moment in time. And each defining event in the seed’s journey will reveal its essence and its suitability for selection into that higher purpose – the coffee connoisseur’s drinking pleasure.
As a coffee roaster I don’t want beans to be defined by the flames of a roaster. The essence of a coffee bean is locked inside it. The flavors and quality are inherent within. That essence is what I want the coffee drinker to experience. The flames are simply a tool to bring out the essence of the bean.
I think of God as a divine ‘artisan roaster’ (not a large commercial roaster but a small batch artisan roaster) and life’s journey is about a higher purpose. What the fiery events of life bring out of us determines the next stage of our journey.
Have you ever been the new kid on the block? It goes a bit like this – a bunch of kids are throwing hoops at the end of the street. They grew up together playing cul-de-sac rules basketball. So, you sidle over and ask to play. Sure, you can. You’re on a team; they throw you the ball; your moment of greatness has arrived; you fumble; the other team scores. According to the cul-de-sac rules you are to be burned at the stake. Called useless; you can’t play basketball you dummy. And so, your dreams of going pro are destroyed. You go through life KNOWING you’re not very good at basketball.
What happens to a person does not define who she or he is, it only reveals it.
Wow, you say. Michel you are so insightful! Yes, I spent my entire youth as the new kid on the block. I went to nine schools in ten years of schooling. I know what useless means. I know how to not “go pro man.” In fact, now wizened beyond my years, I often instruct the grand kids on life, the universe and everything in it – this is the role of a good ‘papa’, to let the kids know how easy their life is and how tough ours was back in days before color and Netflix.
My parents sent me to school with a small travel case as my lunch box. When I sat to eat lunch, I found my sandwich, and also my clothes, neatly packed with a road map directing me to our new house. The first time it happened I didn’t understand until I got home and found my parents had moved. (I’m joking of course)
I am not a victim of life: Life does not define the essence of a man or woman; the fiery trials are there, not to define, but to refine and highlight the soul within.
Winston Churchill, one of my heroes of history, in the darkest moments of war said (to get the quote you have to picture a cigar smoking bulldog like man, with hands clutching the lapels of his coat) “I believe my whole life was preparation for this time”. Churchill, the man, defined the moment by who he was. On the edge of defeat he rallied a nation and turned it to victory.
Carpe Diem – seize the day