Obsession, Coffee and a Hint of Anxiety


Cristimitan – Obsession

I picked up a litre of milk on the way to Sara’s place.

My cold hands stung as I clasped the fresh latte. I sat opposite Sara at her small kitchen table and listened as she outlined the rules for the barista competition. She was competing the following day. She was nervous and excited.

Every coffee Sara makes is made with concerted effort. It is not uncommon for her to go through eight litres of milk during a weekend practice session. She weighs the beans prior to grinding to ensure an optimal shot (18grams if you’re wondering). Sara confessed to waking up at 2am; her mind listing potential problems and their respective solutions. She wanted to be prepared. She wanted to do her best. She cared. Perhaps it is unnecessary to say, but Sara takes coffee seriously.

She values it.

She believes it is worthy of her energy.

I understand, because I share this obsession – not with coffee, but with writing.

The outline for this blog was scribbled on my balcony. It was nine degrees and the sun had just risen. The pot of tea had gone cold beside me and my partner was asleep downstairs, tucked beneath our doona.

I’m often awake at 2am, but my mind isn’t solving the effects of wet weather on coffee grind. Instead, it is playing out a scene with imaginary characters, a line of dialogue or prose. When I am really lucky it’s a solution to a plot hole I have yet to seal over.

If I’ve gone quiet and someone asks ‘What are you thinking about?’ The answer is usually ‘Writing.’

I become anxious when I don’t write – so I write everyday. When I go about completing life’s administrations, visiting friends, exercising or cooking, I am usually thinking I should be writing. It’s my favourite thing to talk about: the process, the mechanics of it, good books that I have read or the long list of ones I am yet to open. Even when my own writing becomes difficult and I am not sure how to mend a clunky sentence or I am questioning the pacing of a scene, I often hear a quote by Chuck Wendig ‘A bad day of writing is better than a good day doing anything else.’

I give so much of myself to this obsession and I give it willingly.

Time, sleep and money are sacrificed so that she may exist.

I sat across from Sara and listened to her strategise. I knew what someone without an obsession would say: this is silly.

Look at all the energy you are wasting. You could put that energy into something more substantial, surely. Why don’t you go get a better education? Then you could get a higher paying job – you’ll earn more money and life will be easier for yourself. If you are bored or have that much free time on your hands, why don’t you start volunteering or offer to babysit your neighbour’s kids or start a part-time lawn mowing business? I hear Downton Abbey is good – start watching that.

Some people think such thoughts because they value external gains (money/praise/possessions) more than internal rewards. One is not better than the other, we all have the right to search for happiness and satisfaction however we choose.  Don’t waste precious time looking for external approval, it gives your power away and weakens your resolve. If I need encouragement or I wish to share my enthusiasm with someone, I know who in my life I can talk too. I don’t make a habit of going to the hardware store for milk.

I dropped Sara off at the airport and told her to break a leg.

She went, she competed and returned home with her third place trophy. The hard work paid off. Winning trophies is wonderful but it isn’t everything. What matters is consistency and the passion that fuels the daily practice. That’s why Sara’s wheelie bin will contain four x 2L empty milk bottles come Monday morning.

Obsession doesn’t reside in outside accolades, but held captive within her creator.

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