“Why are those fireworks so loud?”
“Is it brighter than normal outside?”
“How long have I been asleep?”
“Please stop whispering so loudly.”
Dan’s gotten a taste of my grumpier side this weekend as I’ve spent the last three days attempting to declare my independence from coffee by kicking the caffeine habit cold turkey.
It hasn’t been pretty. As I said yesterday, I’ve turned into a bit of an object lesson for C.S. Lewis’ take on the willfully damned, “shrunk and shut up in themselves…their fists are clenched, their teeth are clenched, their eyes fast shut.”
When I mentioned my plight on Facebook, several friends wanted to know why I’d want to quit drinking something that all the studies show is generally good for you. While I don’t intend to quit coffee altogether, I’d like to kick my three-cups-a-day habit for these reasons:
1. I hate being dependent on coffee when I travel, and with several trips coming up—including one to a foreign country—I thought it would be wise to cut back so that I don’t wake up every morning panicked about where I’m going to get my coffee. I quit before I went to India back in 2006, and was glad I did, as coffee and clean water with which to make it were not always readily available. No need to experience these nasty withdrawal symptoms on the road.
3. It’s important to me to buy fair trade coffee, to know that the farmers who harvested the coffee beans I take for granted were paid a living wage. But when the local grocery store is out of fair trade options (as is often the case here in rural Tennessee), I break down and buy the regular ole’ vacuum-sealed canister brand because I “need” my coffee fix. If I can break my addiction to coffee, I can wait to enjoy the fair trade options when they are available and I won’t feel guilty about spending more money on the fair trade stuff because I won’t need as much of it. I don’t want to remain addicted to a product that, when mindlessly consumed, keeps millions of people in poverty.
4. I spend $15-20 a month on coffee, and I’d probably spend more than that if there was a Starbucks within a 50 mile radius of my home. That is more than half the cost of sponsoring a child through World Vision! It’s amazing how little changes to our routine can powerfully affect the lives of other people. One of my goals as a Bolivia Blogger is to remind myself and my readers that we may be tying our own hands when we insist that we can’t afford to help those in need.
5. In this month in which I focus my attention on justice, I’ve been reexamining my concept of need. What do I really need? And what do I only think I need? How can I eliminate some of the excess in my life to make room for more giving? I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve insisted that I “need” my daily coffee. But after one admittedly miserable weekend, the headache has subsided and the “need” is no longer there. It was mostly in my head…and my bloodstream.
Have you ever tried to quit caffeine? Any advice?
Is there a habit in your life that, if eliminated, would free you to live more justly and give more generously?
What are some other things that we think we need...but that we probably don't?