We had a very hot summer last year, which led to me to take up drinking sodas regularly after many years of only occasional indulgence.
I started off “paying my dues” i.e. walking to the 7-11 on the corner whenever I wanted a fix in the shape of a .99 cent Big Gulp. Eventually, I wanted a fix nearly every day, and the rising heat in the afternoon made even a short walk like that unfathomable. So I started buying soda at the grocery store by the case. Cheaper that way, don’cha know.
After that, the soda was just here all the time, and I drank it all the time, even when it wasn’t hot.
Recently, due to various pandemic related shortages in the industrial arena (aluminum, artificial sweetners, even carbon dioxide for the bubblies) it’s been very difficult to find the particular diet sodas I prefer. The shelves are rather bare all across town. I tried a different variety of diet, but it was not good experience. Rather than settle for a lesser experience, I decided to taper off my soda consumption.
The effect was immediate: I was utterly exhausted.
Every lunch without soda was an afternoon without energy and motivation. As I lay abed like a consumptive Victorian desperately in need of a nap, it finally dawned on me that while I could, and should, quit the soda, that the afternoon shot of caffeine was non-negotiable. Then I remembered that prior to the summer of soda, I used to have a cup of tea (or coffee, chai latte, etc) every afternoon at, well— tea time.
I had abandoned a most civilized tradition to swill diet cola instead. I hang my head in shame that it has taken me this long to correct such a severe error in judgement. It only took a world-wide pandemic to set me straight.
Tea time is more than just what you drink, though. It’s an investment of time in boiling the water and steeping the leaves. It calls to mind a wise woman at her hearth brewing up a healing potion. It can be approached as ritual as it is in the tea ceremonies of the far East. A thing of beauty, a stolen moment, an opportunity to set aside the day for a domestic task that manages to transcend its mundane origins. A little intention, a little purpose and the process evolves into something more.
I’ve been contemplating ritual and praxis lately. I struggle with feeling self-conscious and silly when doing rituals. Perhaps the mundanity of a cup of tea is a step in the right direction.