I’ve been asked a few times over the years since I started writing this blog, why I decided to call it ‘Beyond Caffeine’ instead of … ‘The Website Style Blog’ or some other close connection to the main site.
The short answer is simple: I didn’t feel like calling it that.
The long version is a bit more intricate, and includes a somewhat eccentric fixation on coffee.
NOTE: If you’re not in the mood for a slightly musing and off-topic post, I suggest you stop now and read another article on the blog.
I had my first cup of coffee when I was about 6 years old – it was a latte, with more milk than anything else and plenty of sugar – pretty much the same as drinking a coffee flavored milk instead of chocolate milk. But in spite of the fact that there was very little coffee in it, I loved the unique taste instantly, and began asking for that more regularly. Of course, as time went on I started to make my own with a decreasing amount of milk as the years past.
Counting back years based on how I made my coffee is starting to sound a bit like T.S. Eliot when he said:
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.
But that’s only the background on my initial love for coffee, because years later it would mesh in perfect harmony with my love for technology. When I got into technology as a hobby and then a career, it was most certainly acceptable (perhaps even expected) for me to be a caffeine junkie (whether coffee or soda).
Back somewhere around late high school and early college… with late nights, lots of studying and hanging out with friends, drinking coffee became (for my so-called ‘yuppie-tech generation’) a combination of personal like, a need to stay awake until I chose to go to sleep, and also a social activity. My friends and I didn’t go to bars or clubs – we went to coffee houses. We spent hours pouring over ideas, thoughts, and random other things while enjoying an endless cup of coffee.
After years of that practice, I started to relish the habit of sitting down with a cup of coffee and thinking. It’s almost a meditiative thing in many ways. When you have developed a extremely strong tolerance to coffee, it’s not necessarily just about drinking coffee because your body won’t function without it (although that’s part of it). There is another aspect, for someone who truly enjoys something, to turn it into a very contemplative act. Whether it’s the ritual of drinking coffee at a quiet table in the morning, or something else, it can be a time to think while you engage in something you enjoy.
That is what comes when you move beyond the caffeine, when you aren’t drinking something, but are actually taking part in a ritualistic behavior that allows you to relax and let your mind work.
One of the founding fathers of realism, Honore de Balzac, once said:
When we drink coffee, ideas march in like the army.
I cannot agree more. I’ve had some of my most interesting and inspiring technology business ideas while sitting on my back porch, relaxed and sipping on a cup of coffee.
It doesn’t have to be coffee for all people, and I’m not suggesting to others that they develop an addiction to coffee so that they can ‘gain clarity of thought’ or whatnot. I’m simply saying that the idea of creating some simple, monotonous ritual, something that takes no actual thought but that you enjoy, can provide a period of ‘clear’ time for you. When your mind can wander while you do something pleasant, and perhaps… you’ll have some inspiration.
I think that balanced, relaxed, and contemplative few minutes is essential to staying sane in the midst of a world that is focused on time and how quickly something can be done. I believe that it’s a good practice and a pleasant task to set for yourself. You know, Bertrand Russell said once…
To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level.
Perhaps I named it Beyond Caffeine because maintaining that ‘level’ is what I’m aiming for.
If you’d like to see some of the beautiful meditative coffee photos that I’ve added to my SXU lightbox, feel free to take a look – you’ll be seeing them on here soon anyway 😉