SWEETENED BITTER ESPRESSO
Updated: Oct 13, 2019
The table was made from old Mahogany wood with dark brown grains running back and forth between us as we sat inside the cafe that felt Parisian and cozy. Placing each cup of espresso down in front of us ready to enjoy, the server asked if we needed sugar. Dominique replying, "Yes." She always favors flavors sweet rather than bitter.
Taking my cup and saucer closer to my heart I said, "I had a dream about him again last night."
As she poured some sugar into the cup, her glance shot straight to my face. Taking her spoon to mix the sweetened bitter espresso she asked,
"And what happened this time?"
Taking a sip to test for sweetness accuracy, her dark plum red lipstick was certain to leave an imprint of her lips on the rim of the miniature ceramic cup. She listened with the most intent.
I began explaining, "I was sitting in the cafeteria of a mountain cabin lodge on a bench covered in cold green fabric. The fluorescent lights made me feel hesitant to stay long so I decided to leave but just as I was about to get up I turned to see him sitting right next to me. He was sitting with his new girlfriend or at least I knew it was the girl he had met while working in Botswana. I said to him, 'You're back. How are you?' I could tell from his expression that it took him a moment to remember who I was. It had been so long since we had last spoken. But within a few seconds I could see that his memory of me jumped to the top of his brain and he then smiled saying that he had been doing well. That was the most handsome I've ever dreamt him to be." I said.
I could see from Dominique's intrigue that she had jumped far down into the rabbit hole of my dream and needed to hear the details as if this was real life needing to be deciphered.
"Did he introduce her to you?" She asked as if she would have died without hearing my answer.
Crouching low towards the table and leaning in closer to her, I grasped my little cup in between my hands and said, "No he didn't but I knew."
You knew what?" She asked.
"I knew everything about her." I explained. "I knew that he thought she was what he wanted. He thought she was great. But I knew he only thought that because he didn't know me. I knew that if he had the chance to know me like he knew her then it would be obvious that we were perfect for each other. But how could he have known me when I've been tucked away and idle all this time inside that little cabin lodge?"
She knew exactly what I meant by that. Sitting there together in silence, staring at each other and holding our little coffees hunched over the table as closely as possible sitting on opposite sides we both drew one long deep breath. And then with perfect synchronization we both leaned back sitting up and resting our heads on the backs of each of our chairs. Expressionless from ponderance. Dominique slowly cracked a smile.
"What do you think it means?" She asked.
"I think it means that I'm ready to jump. That if I don't jump now then I will loose the opportunities that I'd be great for, that I long for. I'm ready to dive in to whom I've wanted to become and if I don't do it now then I'm going to miss out on the greatness I desire to acquire." I said.
Dominique nodded her head once, pursed her lips together in thought with strict eye contact with me. In an almost stoic state she said,
I placed my elbow on the table to rest my chin on my hand. Looking at my friend I said,
"But how do I know that I'm not just building this fantasy in my head? The fantasy of just how magnificent these things can be in life? Like that one great love that I'll find or that one great adventure and career. How do I know that I'm not making life more grand than the reality? I fear that I'm setting my expectations too high, I'll never have the reward because none of that stuff exists."
Dominique answered back, "No human on this planet has that answer rather it’s about the risks we take in life. That's the struggle we all face. That is one of the unifying thought we all have and the decision that we make in regards to this question defines who we are as people. At some point along the path we have to ask ourselves, 'What kind of life do we want to live?' There's a chance that if we set our goals too high we won't achieve them. Are we OK with trying and never achieving? Or do we crave reward so much that we feel comfortable lowering our expectations towards something more realistic in achieving? Each individual has to answer this for themselves. What kind of life do you want to live? And what kind of failure are you capable of handling?"
She continued, "If it's greatness that you crave then isn't it more worthwhile to try to find it than to ensure your failure by never embarking on the challenge in the first place? To me it seems as though we don't really answer that question for ourselves. That answer is already built into us. But it's our job to listen to that answer come alive as we live our lives. It's our task to be aware of that answer when it starts calling to us. It's our job to put in the hard work and it's our job to know ourselves. So when that answer comes we can listen and we can hear it clearly. To me, it sounds like the answer is calling to you now. And you're listening. You already have your answer."
My chin still propped up on my hand as I started smiling. It was as if I already knew this deep within but hearing it come off of the polished lips from my wise friend I smiled and asked, "Go on."
"You're the type that sets out for greatness. And you're the type with the acceptance of never finding it. You're OK with this because you know that the true greatness will come from the exploration of your journey. For you, complacency is your failure and boredom is your poison. Some people make the decision that they would rather have the steadiness and comfort of good once it's found. They are the type of people that would be too disappointed with never finding the greatness they've built in their minds. The greatness that you're seeing... and dreaming...well... it probably doesn't really exist the way you're dreaming it does. But your happiness comes from chasing it. Their happiness comes from not. But back to the point of your dream.. you're right. Adventures can't find you when you're tucked inside the cafeteria of a cold mountain lodge...
...It's time to wake up."